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Reality Check: Does the UK sell boomerangs to Australia?

Liam Fox saying: What Napoleon called a nation of shopkeepers has sold tea to China, wine to France and boomerangs to Australia.

The claim: International Trade Secretary Liam Fox says the UK sells tea to China, wine to France and boomerangs to Australia.

Reality Check verdict: It is true.

Liam Fox cited some unusual examples of the UK's adventures in international trade as he set out his vision for a free-trading Britain, in a speech in Manchester on Thursday.

To illustrate his case, he said the UK had sold tea to China, wine to France and boomerangs to Australia.

That certainly does seem to be the case, with trade data collected by HM Revenue & Customs showing the UK sold £46m of wine to France and £642,400 of tea to China last year.

HMRC does not collect data for boomerang sales, but one UK company, Wicked Vision, makes boomerangs in Cornwall and Leighton Buzzard and ships between 50,000 and 100,000 a year to Australia.

Charles Williams, general manager of Wicked Vision, said: "Boomerangs are obviously not exactly a huge market. But it says on the packaging, 'Made in the UK' so the Aussies know that's where they are from, and we're very proud of that."

What does any of this tell us about the UK's role in international trade?

Take wine, for example. There are some highly regarded English wine producers, with the country's sparkling wines, in particular, gaining a decent reputation abroad.

But of that £46m of exports to France, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association estimates that less than 2% is English wine - about £940,000.

In fact, the vast majority of UK wine exports are shipped in from elsewhere in bulk before being bottled in the UK and sold on.

Unsurprisingly, the UK still has a huge trade deficit in wine with France - it imported £881m worth last year.

The UK's tea sales to China have grown substantially since the early 1990s, peaking at almost £1.2m worth in 2010.

But that was dwarfed by the £18.2m of tea the UK bought from China in the same year.



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