Official Statistics

UK trade in numbers (web version)

Updated 22 February 2024

1. UK trade in numbers introduction

We welcome feedback on our statistics. Please get in touch with us at statistics@businessandtrade.gov.uk if you have any comments or questions.

The UK trade in numbers contains the latest published UK trade and investment statistics. It draws on a number of statistical sources including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Trade statistics are derived from a number of sources and can be presented in different ways. The UK’s trade statistics are primarily provided by ONS releases including the ONS monthly UK trade, ONS UK quarterly trade by partner country, and ONS UK balance of payments. These releases set out the UK’s economic relationship with other countries and illustrate the UK’s bilateral trade on top exports and imports for goods and services.

In addition, the UK trade in numbers depicts foreign direct investment, regional trade statistics, and the UK’s position in global trade and investment rankings.

More information on the data sources used in the UK trade in numbers publication are available in the UK trade in numbers: sources.

This latest publication of the UK trade in numbers includes data updates from:

  • ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted, July to September 2023 (published on 26 January 2024)
  • ONS UK trade: December 2023 (published on 15 February 2024)

The next published update to the UK trade in numbers will be 20 March 2024.

This will include data updates from:

  • ONS UK trade: January 2024 (due for release 13 March 2024)

2. UK trade summary statistics

The ONS have published a number of articles setting out the impact of changes to data collection since the UK left the EU. Caution is advised when making comparisons over this time period due to the discontinuity in the data.

2.1 Value of UK total trade in the 12 months to the end of December 2023

£1,755.0 billion

up 0.7% on the previous 12 months

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

2.2 UK trade in 12 months to the end of December 2023

Trade direction Value £ billion % change since previous 12 months
UK exports 859.2 2.6%
UK imports 895.8 -1.0%

Download more detailed data on UK trade in 12 months to the end of December 2023 in open document spreadsheet ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

2.3 UK trade with EU and non-EU countries in 4 quarters to the end of September 2023

Trade direction Value £ billion % change since previous 4 quarters
UK exports to the EU 358.9 8.4%
UK imports from the EU 463.3 15.5%
UK exports to the non-EU 524.2 13.7%
UK imports from the non-EU 437.7 -4.9%

Download more detailed data on UK trade with EU and non-EU countries in 4 quarters to end of September 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS balance of payments July to September 2023

Next release: 28 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

2.4 Number of GB businesses exporting 2021

283,600

Source: ONS Annual Business Survey exporters and importers 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: estimates only cover registered businesses (for VAT and/or PAYE) in the GB (excludes Northern Ireland) non-financial business economy, which accounts for around two-thirds of the economy in terms of gross value added.

Response rates for the 2020 and 2021 surveys were impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. A lower response rate increases the level of uncertainty around the estimates, and therefore the figures for 2021 should not be compared to previous years and estimates should instead be treated as a snapshot in time.

2.5 Proportion of GB businesses exporting 2021

11.4%

Source: ONS Annual Business Survey exporters and importers 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: Estimates only cover registered businesses (for VAT and/or PAYE) in the GB (excludes Northern Ireland) non-financial business economy, which accounts for around two-thirds of the economy in terms of gross value added.

Response rates for the 2020 and 2021 surveys were impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. A lower response rate increases the level of uncertainty around the estimates, and therefore the figures for 2021 should not be compared to previous years and estimates should instead be treated as a snapshot in time.

3. Export statistics

3.1 UK exports of goods and services over time

Date Goods (£ billion) Services (£ billion) Total (£ billion)
2016 299.4 276.2 575.6
2017 339.9 303.4 643.3
2018 354.0 325.7 679.7
2019 368.2 338.5 706.7
2020 314.2 310.6 624.8
2021 331.2 344.8 676.0
2022 425.4 412.3 837.8
2023 392.7 466.7 859.2

Download more detailed data on UK exports of goods and services over time in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

3.2 UK export markets for goods and services 4 quarters to the end of September 2023

Download more detailed data on UK export markets for goods and services in 4 quarters to end of September 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted, July to September 2023

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

3.3 Top 10 UK goods exports 12 months to the end of December 2023

Top 10 UK goods exports Value (£ billion)
Cars 36.6
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 34.5
Medicinal and pharmaceutical products 26.1
Crude oil 19.8
Unspecified goods 18.7
Refined oil 12.0
Aircraft 11.7
Scientific instruments (capital) 11.7
Beverages and tobacco 11.3
Non-ferrous metals 11.1

Download more detailed data on top 30 UK goods exports in 12 months to the end of December 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, non-seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis.

Goods classifications as reported by the ONS, derived from Standard International Trade Classifications (SITC).

Unspecified goods includes non-monetary gold and other precious metals (silver, platinum, palladium), parcel post, low value trade, coins, and defence equipment.

3.4 Top 5 UK services exports 4 quarters to the end of December 2023

Top 5 UK services exports Value (£ billion)
Other business services 180.5
Financial services 77.6
Travel services 59.5
Telecoms, computer and information services 39.5
Transport services 30.5

Download more detailed data on UK services exports for 4 quarters to end of December 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis.

‘Other business services’ comprises professional and management consulting services including legal, accounting, management consulting, public relations, advertising, and market research; technical and trade-related business services including architectural, engineering, and scientific services; and research and development services.

3.5 Global ranking: exports of goods and services

In 2022 the UK ranked

5th

up from 6th in 2021

Download more detailed data on global rankings for exports of goods and services in ods format.

Source: UNCTAD Goods and Services (BPM6)

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures in US dollars, current prices, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

4. Import statistics

4.1 UK imports of goods and services over time

Date Goods (£ billion) Services (£ billion) Total (£ billion)
2016 438.7 174.7 613.4
2017 479.7 191.5 671.2
2018 495.3 214.2 709.5
2019 513.2 224.7 737.9
2020 441.6 170.4 612.0
2021 494.7 184.9 697.5
2022 642.5 262.1 904.6
2023 581.5 314.3 895.8

Download more detailed data on UK imports of goods and services over time in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

4.2 UK import markets for goods and services 4 quarters to the end of September 2023

Download more detailed data on UK import markets for goods and services 4 quarters to end of September 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted, July to September 2023

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

4.3 Top 10 UK goods imports 12 months to the end of December 2023

Top 10 UK goods imports Value (£ billion)
Cars 40.2
Refined oil 28.2
Crude oil 26.6
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 26.4
Medicinal and pharmaceutical products 25.4
Miscellaneous electrical goods (intermediate) 21.2
Gas 21.2
Telecoms and sound equipment (capital) 16.9
Clothing 15.7
Other manufactures (consumer) 14.3

Download more detailed data on top 30 UK goods imports 12 months to the end of December 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, non-seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis.

Goods classifications as reported by the ONS, derived from Standard International Trade Classifications (SITC).

4.4 Top 5 UK services imports 4 quarters to the end of December 2023

Top 5 UK services imports Value (£ billion)
Other business services 109.3
Travel services 90.2
Transport services 34.0
Financial services 17.7
Intellectual property services 16.8

Download more detailed data on UK services imports in 4 quarters to end of December 2023 in ods format

Source: ONS UK trade December 2023

Next release: 13 March 2024

Notes: figures in current prices, seasonally adjusted, on a balance of payments basis.

‘Other business services’ comprises professional and management consulting services including legal, accounting, management consulting, public relations, advertising, and market research; technical and trade-related business services including architectural, engineering, and scientific services; and research and development services.

4.5 Global ranking: imports of goods and services

In 2022 the UK ranked

4th

up from 6th in 2021

Download more detailed data on global ranking of imports of goods and services in ods format.

Source: UNCTAD Goods and Services (BPM6)

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures in US dollars, current prices, on a balance of payments basis. Figures include non-monetary gold and other precious metals.

5. Regional trade statistics

5.1 UK exports by UK nations and English regions 2021

Download more detailed data on exports by UK nations and regions 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS international trade in UK nations, regions and cities: 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices, on a balance of payments basis. Figures exclude non-monetary gold.

Trade data is allocated to each region by linking to data in the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and then apportioning by employment count data.

5.2 UK imports by UK nations and English regions 2021

Download more detailed data on imports by UK nations and regions 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS international trade in UK nations, regions and cities: 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices, on a balance of payments basis. Figures exclude non-monetary gold.

Trade data is allocated to each region by linking to data in the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and then apportioning by employment count data.

6. Foreign direct investment statistics

6.1 Total value of UK inward FDI stock 2021

£2,002.4 billion

up 4.3% compared to 2020

Download more detailed data on total value of UK inward FDI stock 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS foreign direct investment involving UK companies 2021

Next release: 8 August 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices on a directional basis.

6.2 Top 10 investors in the UK 2021

Download more detailed data on top investors in the UK in 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS foreign direct investment (FDI) totals for inward and outward flows, positions and earnings: 2020 to 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices, on a directional basis.

FDI statistics are compiled on the basis of the immediate, rather than the ultimate, partner country. Pass-through investment often leads to an overstatement of investments in or from big financial centres, or countries offering favourable tax terms to investors, distorting the geographical distribution of FDI flows and FDI rankings.

6.3 Global ranking inward FDI stock

In 2022 the UK ranked

3rd

up from 4th in 2021

Download more detailed data on global ranking of inward investment stock in ods format.

Source: UNCTAD Foreign direct investment: Inward and outward flows and stock, annual

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in US dollars, current prices, on a directional basis.

6.4 Number of FDI projects into the UK and jobs created/safeguarded

Measure 2021/22 2022/23 % change
Total projects 1,589 1,654 4%
Involved projects (DBT supported) 1,174 1,083 -8%
Estimated economic impact of involved projects (£m) 7,034 5,769 -18%
New jobs 84,759 79,549 -6%
Safeguarded jobs 7,765 6,646 -14%

Source: DBT inward investment results 2022 to 2023

Next release: tbc 2024

6.5 Total value of UK outward FDI stock 2021

£1,769.3bn

up 0.9% compared to 2020

Download more detailed data on total value of UK outward FDI stock 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS foreign direct investment involving UK companies 2021

Next release: 8 August 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices on a directional basis.

6.6 Top 10 destinations for UK FDI 2021

Download more detailed data on top 10 destinations for UK FDI 2021 in ods format.

Source: ONS foreign direct investment (FDI) totals for inward and outward flows, positions and earnings: 2020 to 2021

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in current prices, on a directional basis.

FDI statistics are compiled on the basis of the immediate, rather than the ultimate, partner country. Pass-through investment often leads to an overstatement of investments in or from big financial centres, or countries offering favourable tax terms to investors, distorting the geographical distribution of FDI flows and FDI rankings.

6.7 Global ranking outward FDI stock

In 2022 the UK ranked

4th

retaining its position from 2021

Download more detailed data on global ranking of outward FDI stock in ods format.

Source: UNCTAD Foreign direct investment: Inward and outward flows and stock, annual

Next release: tbc 2024

Notes: figures are in US dollars, current prices, on a directional basis.

7. Contact

Enquiries to: statistics@businessandtrade.gov.uk