This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

uk services exports

UK exports in services are on the rise, with the latest batch of ONS statistics showing healthy growth. For the whole of 2017, when excluding areas like banking and travel, UK services exports were estimated to have been worth £158bn, compared to £78bn in imports, marking a significant trade surplus.

The USA remains the largest export market when counted on a country-by-country basis, with £3.4bn worth of services exports in the final three months of 2017, ahead of Ireland, the Netherlands and then Germany.

The EU as a single market accounts for the largest share of exports and imports. The bloc accounted for 40.3 per cent of the UK’s exporting activities and 41.8 per cent of imports in the last three months. The USA only generated about half as much as the EU, at 21.8 per cent of services exported and 28.3 per cent of its imports, showing the importance of agreeing a trade arrangement with the EU post Brexit that protects the UK’s surplus in trade in services with the bloc.

Exports in general are on the rise

When both goods and services are counted together, UK exports increased from £39.3bn to £43.3bn in the final months of 2017 – up 10.1 per cent. The EU again drove the bulk of this increase, with exports to the bloc up 8.7 per cent. The biggest growth in imports, however, came in Asia.

In goods, for the whole of 2016 UK goods exports were worth £300bn compared to £434bn in imports.

Based on 2016 data, the top five export markets for UK goods were the USA, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Ireland. For imports, Germany is on top, followed by China and the USA.

Talks about the future relationship with the EU begin

Talks have also begun between EU and UK officials regarding the future trading relationship post-Brexit – over a year after article 50 was triggered.

Formal positions will be presented regarding the negotiating guidelines agreed by EU leaders in March.