The State of Britain

EM’s export performance the second best in the UK with the USA the region’s largest market and the region builds 30% more houses

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HMRC has published the latest regional trade figures which show exports and imports for 2019. Given the time period this data reflects Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil. 

In the year to December 2019, the overall value of UK trade in goods exports increased by 2.1% to £346bn compared with the same period in 2018. The overall value of imports increased by 0.3% to £483bn.

There was an increase in the annual export value in the EM along with five of the 12 UK ‘regions’. The EM’s exports increased by an impressive 9.7% or £2.2bn to £24bn which was 7% of the UK total.  

The leading regional exporter was the SE of England at £46.5bn and Northern Ireland was the smallest at £9bn. The best performer in percentage terms was London which added 17% with EM second; this compared with Yorkshire & the Humber which dropped by 6%.

There was an increase in the annual import value in the EM along with five of the 12 UK ‘regions’. The EM’s imports increased by 4.6% or 1.3bn to £29bn which was 6% of the UK total.

The leading regional importer was the SE at £98bn and Northern Ireland was the smallest at £8bn. In percentage terms London added 12% compared with Scotland which reduced imports by 7%.

The USA was the EM’s largest export marke t with machinery & transport equipment the best export. Most of the EM’s imported goods came from Germany with machinery and transport equipment the biggest import.


This month the ONS published data on regional services imports for 2017. The largest component of services imported into the UK was £51bn of travel. This was 28% of the £181bn UK total imports of services.

The EM’s imported £8bn of services value in 2017 of which £3bn was travel. The biggest importer of services was London at £60bn with Northern Ireland importing £1.6bn.

At a local level, the largest importer of non-travel services into the UK was Camden and City of London at £14.5bn, almost double the next largest importer which was Westminster at £7.9bn. Of the 167 local areas, The Western Isles of Scotland imported the least amount, £21m, with Anglesey next at £31m.

In the EM, Leicestershire CC and Rutland imported £834m of non-travel services compared with £190m in East Derbyshire.

The data on services exports was released by the ONS last year which showed the EM exporting £7.6bn of services which compared with London at £117bn and Northern Ireland at £2.9bn.

Other data

The ONS has also published the latest regional construction sector data to December 2019 which again reflects Brexit uncertainty rather than Covid 19 turmoil. Compared with the previous quarter all parts of the UK recorded a decline with the EM posting a 1.8% drop to £3.2bn. The biggest decrease in the UK was 4.6% in the West Midlands; the SE was best with a 0.9% fall. Within this though 4980 new houses were completed in the EM, an increase of 30% on the previous quarter, the biggest uplift in the UK.

More pre-pandemic data from the ONS showed unemployment in the region was 4,000 higher at 100,000 between December and February; the uplift of 0.2% took the rate to 4.0%. Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of 2.5%, the NE the highest at 5.6% with the UK rate at 4%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80.1% which compared with 77.7% in the EM’s where 2.4m are employed; the UK rate was 76.6%.

The EM’s average property price decreased over the month by 1.5% to £192,244. The drop took the annual increase to 0.7%. In comparison, UK prices dropped by 0.6% to £230,332 during February, an annual growth rate of 1.1%.leading