Brexit has given rise to confusion and concern among businesses and consumers alike where importation is concerned. While the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is available for all to read, the reality of what the deal means is yet to be fully understood by a lot of British businesses and customers.
With many asking what the future of UK trade will look like, we’ve created a map of Britain’s traditional trade partners (based on information from the Office for National Statistics for November 2019 and November 2020) and highlighted opportunities that could be exploited despite the challenges that Brexit presents.
Top importers to the UK
So, which countries were the top importers to the UK pre-Brexit?
Germany sits at the top of the table, having moved £30,875.83 million worth of goods to the UK between November 2019 to November 2020. This European Union (EU) country was one of the UK’s largest overall trading partners between January and June 2020, coming second only to the United States.
China was the second biggest importer between November 2019 and November 2020. In total, the East Asian country imported £22,953.33 million worth of goods during this period. China was the UK’s fifth largest trading partner in the first half of 2020.
In third position, the UK’s top trading partner, the United States exported £16,056.82 million worth of goods to Britain in the twelve months from November 2019.
Coming in fourth place, the Netherlands sent £13,268.46 million worth of goods to the UK in this period. This EU country also ranks in fourth position when it comes to overall trading with the UK.
The UK imported £10,069.62 worth of goods from Norway, making this non-EU member European country our fifth largest importer during this timeframe.
Pre-Brexit, the UK benefited from any trade deal the EU had made with a non-EU country. When Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020, the EU had approximately 40 trade deals in place across 70 countries.
The UK has negotiated deals with 63 of these countries that will enable us to continue trading in the same way as before.
The UK signed its first major trade deal as an independent trading nation with Japan in October 2020. The agreement is designed to benefit British businesses and citizens in a way that the EU deal did not, particularly in relation to digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries.
The government has also announced that it would apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade deal with 11 Asia and Pacific countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Separate talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand to agree new trade deals that should pave the way for closer trade relationships with these countries.