• Analysis of ONS export data shows that the fastest-growing export markets for UK goods in 2018 were Nigeria (up 27%) and India (up 24%)
  • The largest export destination country for UK goods remains the US – worth £55 billion to the UK in 2018
  • Overall UK export growth slows to just 2% in 2018 following 11% growth in 2017

Nigeria and India were the top two fastest-growing export destinations for UK goods in 2018, according to analysis1 by Santander Corporate & Commercial of the latest ONS export data. UK exports to Nigeria grew by 27% last year to £1.63 billion, while those to India were up 24% to £5.52 billion.

The analysis, which looks at the top 50 goods export markets, shows that the top 10 fastest growing markets in 2018 were predominantly made up of non-European Union countries. Alongside Nigeria and India, Thailand (up 19% to £1.55 billion), Taiwan (up 18% to £1.37 billion), and Canada (up 13% to £6.09 billion) were all in the top 10.

John Carroll, Head of International, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “It’s exciting to see British companies embracing new international trade opportunities, not just with established trading superpowers like the US, Germany and Japan but also in evolving markets such as India and Nigeria. Taking the leap into a new and less traditional market can seem daunting at first, but we know that companies who trade internationally often have stronger growth prospects and are more resilient against economic uncertainty at home.”

The UK exported £350 billion in goods in 2018, up 3% versus 2017, and £279 billion in services, up 0.2%. Overall, the UK’s total exports (goods and services) for 2018 were up 2% from the previous year to an all-time high of £629 billion. However, year-on-year growth has slowed when compared to the previous year’s growth from 2016 to 2017 at 11%.2

Regionally, exports of UK goods to the whole of Europe (including EU countries) were up by 3% compared to 8% in North America and 5% in Asia-Pacific. Asia-Pacific is now bigger than North America (£63 billion vs. £61 billion) in terms of export values for UK goods.

Santander UK has bolstered its engagement with India in recent years, signing a memorandum of understanding with Yes Bank, India's fourth largest private sector bank, in 2017 and leading a delegation of food and drink businesses to India last year.

Gautam Sehgal, India Alliances Director, Santander UK said: “India is a thriving market with a strong rate of economic growth. Its drive towards infrastructure expansion is well reflected in a 65% rise in exports of electrical energy infrastructure from the UK in 2018 alone. The data also shows a significant increase in automotive, advanced engineering and medical sector exports – industries which are considered major contributors to UK job creation and GDP. As the world’s fastest growing economy, India is a key international trading partner as the UK looks to expand its global connections.”

Recent Trailblazers research by Santander Corporate & Commercial3 found that high growth businesses still see the European Union as presenting the greatest opportunity for international growth. Nearly a third (31%) plan to increase sales in the EU over the coming year, with North America the second most popular region for international expansion (27%).

Helping businesses to export is a core priority for Santander, drawing on Banco Santander’s presence in 10 core markets such as the US, Brazil and Mexico as well as alliance partnerships with other banks in countries like France, China, Singapore and India.

Santander supports companies throughout their exporting journey, helping them to identify potential opportunities, running trade missions to connect businesses with new customers and suppliers, and introducing business to the services they need when setting up internationally.

 Largest region by export value (within the top 50), for UK goods, in 2018
 Región Value, £million Percentage growth from 2017
 Europe 189,213 3%
 of which European Union 167,883 4%
 Asia & Pacific 63,037 5%
 North America 61,082 8%
 Arab States 16,038 -13%
 South/Latin America 4,289 2%
 Africa 3,746 3%


Top 10 export destinations for UK goods in 2018, by value
 Country Value £million Percentage change from 2017
 United States 54,991 7%
 Germany 36,053 -3%
 Netherlands 25,760 17%
 France 24,412 1%
 Ireland 22,188 9%
 China 18,579 3%
 Belgium 14,534 4%
 Italy 10,732 4%
 Spain 10,413 1%
 Hong Kong 8,318 5%


Top 10 fastest-growing export destinations (within the top 50) for UK goods, over one year
 Country Value £million Percentage change from 2017
 Nigeria 1,634 27%
 India 5,524 24%
 Greece 1,066 21%
 Thailand 1,545 19%
 Taiwan 1,370 18%
 Netherlands 25,760 17%
 Norway 3,639 13%
 Canada 6,091 13%
 Japan 7,032 10%
 Ireland 22,188 9%

Source: Santander UK analysis of ONS Top 50 UK export data, 2018

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

 Notes to Editors

  1. Santander analysis of the ONS UK Trade Publication tables, published 11/02/2019, showing top 50 goods export country data between 1998 and 2018.
  2. Santander analysis of the ONS UK Trade publication tables, published 11/02/2019, showing overall export value including goods and services over time.
  3. Research is based on a survey of over 1,000 businesses conducted by YouGov during November and December 2018. From this sample, we identified a group representing 12% of the total cohort: these are high-growth companies that have grown their revenues by at least 20% over the past 12 months and/or which expect to do so over the coming year.

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