UK trade: June 2021

Total value of UK exports and imports of goods and services in current prices, chained volume measures and implied deflators.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

Cyswllt:
Email Hannah Donnarumma

Dyddiad y datganiad:
12 August 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
10 September 2021

1. Main Points

  • Total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, fell by £0.6 billion (2.2%) in June 2021, driven by a £0.8 billion (5.6%) fall in exports to non-EU countries; mainly because of falls in medicinal and pharmaceutical products and cars.

  • Exports of goods to the EU, excluding precious metals, were above pre-EU exit levels in May and June 2021; rising £1.2 billion (9.1%) to £14.1 billion in May 2021, followed by a further £0.2 billion (1.2%) to £14.3 billion in June 2021.

  • Total imports of goods, excluding precious metals, increased by £1.0 billion (2.6%) in June 2021 with a £0.5 billion (2.7%) increase in imports from EU countries and an increase of £0.5 billion (2.5%) to non-EU countries.

  • Increasing monthly imports of goods from EU countries were driven by cars, while increases from non-EU countries were driven by mechanical machinery.

  • In Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2021, total imports of goods, excluding precious metals, were £12.8 billion (12.4%) higher than Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021, with increases in imports from EU and non-EU countries.

  • In Quarter 2 2021, total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, were £9.1 billion (12.5%) higher than Quarter 1 2021; driven almost entirely by increasing exports to the EU.

  • The total trade deficit (excluding precious metals) widened by £3.6 billion to £5.2 billion in Quarter 2 2021.

  • In Quarter 2 2021, the trade in services surplus increased by £0.1 billion to £28.3 billion.

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Please note that all trade figures are excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals unless otherwise stated.

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3. Monthly trade analysis

Total imports of goods increased in June 2021, with increases from EU and non-EU countries. Imports of machinery and transport equipment from non-EU and EU countries increased by £0.3 billion and £0.2 billion respectively. For non-EU countries the increase was driven by mechanical machinery while for EU countries the increase was driven by cars. Imports of material manufactures from non-EU countries increased by £0.2 billion in June 2021, driven by a £0.2 billion increase in imports of non-ferrous metals like silver, particularly from China.

Figure 2: Imports of goods from EU countries drove the increase in total imports of goods in June 2021

EU and non-EU goods imports by commodity June 2019 to June 2021

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Figure 3: Falling exports to non-EU countries partially offset the slight increase to EU countries

EU and non-EU goods exports by commodity, June 2019 to June 2021

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Total exports of goods fell in June 2021, driven by falling exports to non-EU countries. Exports of chemicals to non-EU countries fell by £0.4 billion in June 2021, with a £0.2 billion fall in exports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products.

Exports of machinery and transport equipment to non-EU countries fell by £0.3 billion in June 2021, driven by a £0.2 billion fall in exports of cars. The low domestic production of cars in recent months caused by staff shortages and the global semiconductor shortage will have reduced exports of cars.

Exports of goods to EU countries increased in June 2021 because of a £0.9 billion increase in exports of chemicals to the EU. This was driven by a £0.6 billion increase in exports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products.

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4. Total trade, three-monthly and annual movements

Total imports and exports of goods increased in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2021 when compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021 with EU and non-EU countries. Imports of all commodities increased in Quarter 2 2021 for both EU and non-EU countries (Figure 4). Exports of all commodities except fuels increased to the EU in Quarter 2 2021, and exports of all commodities except fuels and crude materials increased to non-EU countries. Exports of chemicals to the EU increased significantly in Quarter 2 2021, likely linked to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination effort which picked up significantly across Europe in April, May and June of 2021.

Figure 4: Imports of all commodities increased in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2021 when compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021

Changes in imports and exports by goods commodity group, excluding unspecified goods, Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2021 compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021

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The total trade deficit widened by £3.6 billion to £5.2 billion in Quarter 2 2021 (Figure 5). Imports increased by £11.5 billion to £150.5 billion and exports increased by £7.9 billion to £145.3 billion.

Removing the effect of inflation, the total trade deficit, excluding unspecified goods, widened by £4.2 billion to £5.7 billion in Quarter 2 2021. Imports increased by £8.7 billion to £144.5 billion and exports increased by £4.5 billion to £138.8 billion.

In Quarter 2 2021, the trade in services surplus increased by £0.1 billion to £28.3 billion. Imports fell by £1.3 billion and exports fell by £1.2 billion.

Imports and exports of goods rose significantly in June 2021 when compared with June 2020 (Table 2). However, 2020 data was strongly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, so we also provide comparisons to 2018, when trade was not impacted by COVID-19 or the end of the transition period. Imports and exports of goods fell in June 2021 when compared with June 2018.

Exports and imports of goods increased in Quarter 2 2021 when compared with the same period in 2020 but fell when compared with the same period in 2018.

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5. Explore UK trade in goods country-by-commodity data for 2020

Explore the 2020 trade in goods data using our interactive tools. Our data breaks down UK trade in goods with 234 countries by 125 commodities.

Use our map to get a better understanding of what goods the UK traded with a country. Select a country by hovering over it or using the drop-down menu.

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Notes:
  1. For more information about our methods and how we compile these statistics, please see Trade in goods, country-by-commodity experimental data: 2011 to 2016. Users should note that the data published alongside this release are official statistics and no longer experimental.

  2. These data are our best estimate of these bilateral UK trade flows. Users should note that alternative estimates are available, in some cases, through the statistical agencies for bilateral countries or through central databases such as UN Comtrade.

  3. This interactive map denotes country boundaries in accordance with international statistical classifications set out within Appendix 4 of the Balance of Payments (BoP) Vademecum (PDF, 1.1MB) and does not represent the UK policy on disputed territories.

You can also explore the 2020 trade in goods data by commodity, for example, car exports to the EU and UK tea or coffee imports.

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Select a commodity from the drop-down menu or click through the levels to explore the data.

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Notes:
  1. For more information about our methods and how we compile these statistics, please see Trade in goods, country-by-commodity experimental data: 2011 to 2016. Users should note that the data published alongside this release are no longer experimental.

  2. These data are our best estimate of these bilateral UK trade flows. Users should note that alternative estimates are available, in some cases, via the statistical agencies for bilateral countries or through central databases such as UN Comtrade.

  3. This interactive map denotes country boundaries in accordance with international statistical classifications set out within Appendix 4 of the Balance of Payments (BoP) Vademecum (PDF, 1.1MB) and does not represent the UK policy on disputed territories.

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6. Revisions

In accordance with the National Accounts Revisions Policy, the data in this release have been revised from April 2021 to May 2021 for both goods and services.

Following the publication of the April 2021 release, an error was identified in the HMRC Overseas Trade data used to compile Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK Trade statistics. More information on this data error can be found in HMRC's correction note.

Revisions for the period January 2020 to February 2021 were published in our May 2021 release on 9 July 2021. This revision took place outside of the usual National Accounts revisions period in order to ensure ONS Trade figures reflect the most up-to-date position. As this revision took place outside of the usual revisions period, GDP were not open for revisions and therefore the GDP first quarterly estimate does not include the revised 2020 and Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021 Trade data. These revisions will be incorporated in September Quarterly National Accounts.

We are considering options to include pre-2020 revisions and plan to update users on our plans to incorporate these revisions in our next bulletin on 10 September 2021.

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7. UK trade data

UK trade: goods and services publication tables
Dataset | Released 12 August 2021
Monthly data on the UK's trade in goods and services, including trade inside and outside the EU.

UK trade time series
Dataset MRET | Released 12 August 2021
Monthly value of UK exports and imports of goods and services by current price, chained volume measures (CVMs) and implied deflators (IDEFs).

UK trade in goods by classification of product by activity time series
Dataset | Released 16 June 2021
Quarterly and annual time series of the value of UK imports and exports of goods grouped by product. Goods are attributed to the activity of which they are the principal products.

Other related trade data
Released 12 August 2021
Other UK trade data related to this publication. These include trade in goods for all countries with the UK, monthly export and import country-by-commodity trade in goods data, and revisions triangles for monthly trade data.

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8. Glossary

Chained volume measures (CVMs)

CVM estimates are a "real" measure in that it has had the effect of inflation removed to measure the change in volume between consecutive periods, fixing the prices of goods and services in one period (the base year).

Current price measures (CPs)

These estimates measure the actual price paid for goods or services and are not adjusted for inflation. Unless otherwise stated, all current price data are provided in £ million and are seasonally adjusted.

Inflation

Inflation is the change in the average price level of goods and services over a period of time.

Implied deflators (IDEFs)

An IDEF shows the implied change in average prices for the respective components of the trade balance, for example, the IDEF for imports will show the average price movement for imports.

Precious metals and non-monetary gold

Precious metals include precious metals, silver, platinum and palladium, and it forms part of the commodity group "unspecified goods". Non-monetary gold comprises the majority of this group and is the technical term for gold bullion not owned by central banks.

Trade balance

The trade balance is the difference between exports and imports or exports minus imports. When the value of exports is greater than the value of imports, the trade balance is in surplus. When the value of imports is greater than the value of exports, the trade balance is in deficit. The balance is sometimes referred to as "net exports".

A full Glossary of economic terms is available.

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9. Measuring the data

Coronavirus data impact

Because of the challenges of data collection during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have experienced challenges around the level of survey and data returns for this trade release.

Data sources

Data from the quarterly International Trade in Services (ITIS) Survey make up over 50% of trade in services data. Many businesses have moved to working from home or suspended trade because of the coronavirus, causing a lower survey response than usual. View the UK trade QMI for more detail.

Data from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) are the main source for travel services, making up around 8% of total trade. The IPS was suspended from 16 May 2020 because of the coronavirus. We have been investigating alternative ways to continue to measure these services in the future. View the UK trade QMI for more detail.

Data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) make up over 90% of trade in goods value and are the main source. We have worked closely with HMRC to prepare for the change in collection of customs data, which occurred at the end of the EU exit transition period. View further information in Impact of EU exit on the collection and compilation of UK trade statistics.

In line with international standards, our headline trade statistics contain the UK's exports and imports of non-monetary gold. View more information about the Office for National Statistics' (ONS') recording of non-monetary gold.

Unless otherwise specified, data within this bulletin are in current prices. This means they have not been adjusted to remove the effects of inflation.

Method

Trade is measured through both exports and imports of goods and services. Data are supplied by over 30 sources including several administrative sources, with HMRC being the largest for trade in goods.

View more detailed information about the methods used to produce UK trade statistics on the UK trade methodology web pages. More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the UK trade QMI.

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10. Strengths and limitations

National Statistics designation status

The UK Statistics Authority suspended the National Statistics designation of UK trade on 14 November 2014. We have now responded to all of the specific requirements of the reassessment of UK trade and, as part of our engagement with the Office for Statistics Regulation team, we are sharing our continuous improvement and development plans to support UK trade statistics regaining National Statistics status. We welcome feedback on our new trade statistics, developments and future plans by email to trade@ons.gov.uk.

Trade asymmetries

Asymmetries can be caused by a range of conceptual and measurement variations between the estimation practices of different countries. Statistical agencies are likely to have different source data, estimation methods, and methodological, geographical and definitional differences. More information on trade in goods asymmetries is published by HMRC, while analysis on trade in services asymmetries is published by the Office for National Statistics.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the UK trade QMI.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Hannah Donnarumma
trade@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1329 447648