Britain’s trading relation with the European Union may have dominated the headlines of late, but UK businesses know there’s much more to global trade than Europe. Figures released last spring showed that the fastest-growing export markets for the UK were in Asia, with exports to Taiwan growing by 40.8%. British businesses are also doing particularly well in India (+19.3%), Thailand (+17.8%) and Kuwait (+14.1%), among other destinations.
With Asian economies set to be bigger than those of the rest of the world combined by next year, and to account for 35% of global GDP by 2030, it’s clear that this huge market mustn’t be underestimated. South-East Asia alone is home to 620 million people, and the ASEAN economic community is set to be the fourth largest single market in the world by 2030. With member states including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, it’s already significantly larger than the EU.
Mark of Quality
In many Asian countries, ‘Made in Britain’ is seen as a mark of quality and a badge of prestige. China’s wealthy middle-class all aspire to drive British luxury cars from Jaguar Land Rover, and the world’s second largest economy is set to become the number one market for luxury goods of all kinds. This is a market that the UK excels in, exporting jewellery and precious metals around the world.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the UK’s top trading partner, but the United Arab Emirates is the top market for civil exports. The UK is doing very well in exporting medical, sound and telecommunications equipment, as well as vehicles, gemstones and luxury goods. It’s exceptionally easy to send money to the United Arab Emirates with the right brokers, and around 5000 UK companies are currently enjoying great success in this territory.
The American Markets
The UK’s main export destination remains the United States: 17% of all British exports end up in the world’s largest economy, with geographical neighbour Canada our #2 market. Both countries have said that they hope to strengthen their trade relationships with the UK after Brexit. That is good news for exporters of transport equipment, machinery, chemicals and all manner of manufactured goods, all of which the US purchases from the UK in significant quantities. In Canada, petroleum products and aeroplane engines are among the main products bought from Britain.
Down in South America, the number of small to medium-sized British businesses exporting to the region has doubled since 2011. It would be wrong to see the subcontinent as one homogenous trading bloc, however. Brazil is the top market for UK companies, but its complex and exorbitant taxes can be off-putting. So keep an eye on Argentina, which has just recently lifted its controls on exports and abolished the need for import licenses.
The message is clear: there’s a whole world out there. Markets that were once closed off, volatile or unsafe are now open for business. A growing middle class and increased prosperity among developing nations means that the demand for quality British products has never been higher.