The rising level of UK exports to non-European Union countries could be one of the triggers behind Brexit.
The latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics show that Britain has increased exports of goods and services to the non-EU world for the ninth year running.
Although Europe is still an important trading partner for the UK, the significance of exports to the bloc for the economy is falling.
The figures, says the ONS, break down like this:
- Total exports of goods and services in 2017 – £616 billion
- Exports to the EU – £274 billion
- Exports outside the EU – £342 billion
The fastest growing export destinations seem unlikely – Oman saw imports from Britain increase by 354% to £3 billion, while Macedonia reported UK trade growing by 318% to £1 billion and then Kazakhstan, where trade was up by 210% to £2 billion.
International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said about the figures: “British goods remain in global demand as exports to non-EU countries continue to grow in markets such as Oman. It shows the confidence the world has in our goods and is important as 90% of global trade will come from outside EU.
“As an international economic department, we have a dynamic and experienced team who will negotiate free trade deals and make a success of Brexit. We’re also supporting UK businesses in exporting more and talking to international businesses on why we should be the top destination for investment through our great campaign.”
The figures also reveal that in 2017:
- British exports of goods rose by 13% to £339 billion
- Exports of services rose by 7% to £277 billion
- The USA remains the UK’s top export market, buying over £112 billion worth of goods and services in 2017, an increase of 8% since 2016
This is why President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May are so keen to settle a tariff-free trade deal as soon as they can.
In a separate report, the ONS confirms UK exports increased by another 5% in the year ending May 31, 2018, while services logged a £111 billion surplus from shipping business worth £279 billion overseas.