UK's services export surplus is growing three times faster outside the EU

7 August 2017


BRITAIN is exporting more and more of its services expertise to the furthest continents in the world, far outstripping its performance with the EU, according to  latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The UK’s export surplus in services, which represents 80 per cent of the economy, has soared by 67 per cent with non-EU countries in the last five years while the 28 EU member states continue to decline as a market place, according to the ONS. 

Britain’s level of trade in services beyond the EU, including China, India and the US, has risen from £52.2bn in 2011 to £79.1bn in 2015, a leap of 52 per cent. This means that the UK’s surplus with non-EU countries - the difference between what we sell to them and what they export to the UK - has risen by 67 per cent, from £27.8bn to £46.5bn, during the same period. 

Meanwhile, the ONS statistics show that, with the EU, services exports - excluding travel, transport and banking - rose by a more modest 38 per cent, from £32bn to £44bn, between 2011 and 2015. This means that the surplus that the UK has with the continent rose by 24 per cent, from £14.7bn to £18.2bn, a performance dwarfed by Britain’s trade with non-EU countries.

ONS figures also reveal that the UK’s export in services with developing countries is contributing to global growth. Asia has become a significant market for UK expertise during the last five years. The value of services exported to countries including China and India rose by just under 40 per cent to £21.5bn a year.

Trade with what the ONS categorises as the Rest of the World, which includes Africa and Oceania - Australia and the Pacific Islands -  saw services exports rise by 35 per cent to £8.2bn.  Growth in services exports to the US have risen from £26.7bn to £34bn - 27 per cent - demonstrating the potential of President Trump’s proposed trade deal. /more... 

However, the UK had an overall trade deficit of £71 billion with the EU which, taken as a whole, remains our biggest single market, in 2016. A surplus of £24bn in trade in services was outweighed by a £96bn deficit in trade in goods.

The growth in global services trade coincides with the UK establishing its overseas business network in 2013 which harnessed far greater proactive support from British chambers of commerce overseas to provide grass roots help to UK exporters.

Chamber International has been at the forefront of this becoming the first UK chamber to sign a memorandum of understanding with the British Chamber of Commerce, Singapore (BCCS) which means that businesses it helps can access a range of fast-track bespoke support in Singapore including being able to ‘hot-desk’ at their premises, meet hand-picked local companies, attend trade shows and access local professional advisers.

The overseas business initiative started by offering assistance in 41 high growth and emerging markets but more support is now available in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, India, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Philippines, UAE.

This support, which can be accesses through Chamber International, includes 15 new British business centres and covers four main areas of support in each market: Market insight – meet and speak to business experts representing the UK export network; Getting started overseas – business centres, match-making or access to business services; Building market share – joint venture or local marketing support, access to satellite offices and Building regional share – introductions to region/worldwide business-to-business networks.


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