What is the UK importing and exporting?

The Office for National Statistics recently released a bulletin detailing the total value of UK exports and imports of goods and services for November 2022. It also included final figures for 2021 which reveals which goods we were trading the most and who with.

Let’s have a look at the biggest details and main points.

The Port of Felixstowe

Main points to remember

Gas prices continued to decrease in November 2022, leading to the third consecutive month of decreases in the value of fuel imports from non-EU countries.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine beginning on 24 February 2022, the UK government imposed a range of economic sanctions on Russia, resulting in historic lows of trade with Russia. 

The UK leaving the EU and the subsequent transition period, along with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, supply chain disruption and global recession, have caused higher levels of volatility in trade statistics in recent years.

More details, including graphs and tables, can be found on the ONS’s website at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/uktrade/november2022

Top imports...

The value of goods imports increased by £1.8 billion (3.5%) in November 2022. This is further broken down by region: goods imports from EU countries increased by £1.2 billion (4.7%) and imports from non-EU countries rose by £0.6 billion (2.2%), both driven by rising imports of machinery and transport equipment. 

The increase in machinery and transport equipment imports from the EU was because of higher ship imports from Finland. Imports of machinery and transport equipment from non-EU countries increased by £1.3 billion because of higher imports of cars from China and aircraft from the United States. 

Fuel imports from non-EU countries fell for the third consecutive month, with a decrease of £1.1 billion in November 2022. This decrease was driven by lower gas imports from Norway and Qatar.

The top 6 goods the UK imported in 2021: 

  • Machinery and transport equipment: £160m
  • Miscellaneous manufactures: £71m
  • Material manufactures: £63m
  • Chemicals: £63m
  • Fuels: £53m
  • Food and live animals: £41m


The top 5 countries the UK traded with regarding imports in 2021: 

  • China
  • Germany
  • USA
  • Netherlands
  • Norway

Top Exports

The decrease in exports to the EU was driven by a £0.4 billion fall in fuel exports, led by decreased exports of crude oil to Poland and Sweden. November 2022 was the fourth month in a row where exports of fuels to EU countries fell.

The rise in exports to non-EU countries was driven by a £0.7 billion increase in exports of machinery and transport equipment, along with an increase of £0.4 billion in exports of chemicals. The increase was because of increased exports of aircraft to Qatar and road vehicles to the United States and China. This was partially offset by a £0.3 billion decrease in material manufactures exports, primarily non-ferrous metals to India.

The top goods the UK exported in 2021: 

  • Machinery and transport equipment: £120m
  • Chemicals: £54m
  • Miscellaneous manufactures: £39m
  • Material manufactures: £37m
  • Fuels: £33m
  • Food and live animals: £14m


The top 5 countries the UK traded with regarding exports in 2021: 

  • USA
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • France

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