United Kingdom agricultural trade depends heavily on imports, especially consumer-oriented and agricultural-related goods
The United Kingdom (U.K.) is the world’s fifth-largest importer of agricultural and related goods and a large market for U.S. products. The U.K. imported $78.2 billion in agricultural and related goods in 2021 and exported $31.9 billion, less than half the value of imports. Historically, the European Union has been the largest trading partner with the U.K., but the U.K.’s formal departure from the European single market, known as “Brexit,” will likely impact the UK’s trade dynamics as the country seeks to diversify trading partners. An estimated two-thirds of agricultural goods imported by the U.K. in 2021 were high-value, consumer-oriented products, such as distilled spirits, dairy products, and processed seafood products. Imports of agricultural-related products, namely forest products (primarily wood pellets used for power generation), have reached double-digit growth in recent years. Forest products were the largest single commodity group imported into the U.K. from the global market in 2021 at $9.66 billion, with the United States the top country-level supplier at $1.33 billion. The United States also exported about $1.12 million in alcoholic beverages to the U.K. in 2021. On the other side of trade, the U.K. is a top supplier of alcoholic beverages (primarily distilled spirits) to the United States, although its share has given way to larger, more efficient producers such as France in recent years. Agreements between the U.K. and the United States in 2022 to allow for the export of British beef and lamb to the United States for the first time since the 1990s are expected to generate $50 million in trade over the next 5 years based on British estimates. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, United Kingdom Agricultural Production and Trade Policy Post-Brexit, February 2023.
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