UK and the wider world: trading partners

The UK has undergone many changes and its position in relation to other countries is changing. As new emerging economies (NEEs) continue to grow, where will the UK fit in to the global economy?

The place of the UK in the wider world

The UK has strong political links with many countries. As a member of the European Union (EU), the UK works closely with 27 other countries. For example, the UK is a member of the Commonwealth, which is one of the world's oldest political groups. The Commonwealth is a group of 53 countries and it began when those countries were ruled by Britain. Current membership is optional. The UK also has other political links, such as the Group of Seven (G7). The G7 is made up of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. They meet yearly to discuss global economic issues.

The links that the UK has with other countries are based on a variety of factors:

  • Trade – the UK imports and exports goods from many countries. Over 50% of UK trade is with EU countries. The UK's next biggest trading partners are found in Asia and Oceania. Foreign exports also include money spent by tourists visiting the country. The UK's biggest exports are machinery and transport equipment.
Exports/imports: 51%/51% EU, 15%/19% North America, 15%/12% Asia & Oceania, 8%/9% Non-EU Europe, 5%/4% Middle East & North America, 3%/3% Sub-Saharan Africa, 2%/2% Latin America & Caribbean, 1% Other.
  • Culture – UK literature, music, cinema, sport, television, history and architecture are important globally. Books, such as the Harry Potter series, are sold worldwide. UK sports are showcased through events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, Wimbledon, the Premier League and the London Marathon. UK architecture can be seen in many commonwealth countries. Tourists visit the UK to experience the culture and many UK cities have been labelled 'cities of culture'.
Buckingham Palace and The Mall
  • Transport – increasing air travel is strengthening the UK's links with other countries. In addition to this, the UK has modern port facilities and a high speed rail link to Europe.
Eurostar
  • Communications – the UK is linked to the rest of the world via the internet. Internet cables beneath the sea provide a fast connection to countries globally.
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