UK trade in services by partner country: July to September 2019

Trade in services data Experimental Statistics, including breakdown of exports and imports by country and geographical region, EU and non-EU.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

Contact:
Email Chloe Gibbs

Release date:
22 January 2020

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the trade in services surplus widened £0.7 billion to £24.0 billion in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019, compared with the same quarter a year ago, as exports grew faster than imports.

  • Exports of services were £3.9 billion higher in Quarter 3 2019 compared with the same quarter last year, while imports of services grew by a lesser £3.2 billion.

  • The rise in exports between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019 was mainly driven by other business services and intellectual property; increases in imports were mainly from other business services, financial services, and intellectual property.

  • The UK imported £29.2 billion of services from non-EU countries in Quarter 3 2019, compared with £28.8 billion imported from the EU. The UK exported £49.1 billion of services to non-EU countries over the same period, compared with exports of £33.0 billion to the EU.

  • The UK’s largest trading partner for both exports and imports of services in Quarter 3 2019 was the United States.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

Data in this release will differ from the monthly UK trade release on a quarterly basis, as services data is on a non-seasonally adjusted basis while it is seasonally adjusted in UK trade.

Data are provided in as much detail as possible without disclosing the details of any individual companies, however, this means some figures have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.

You are advised to be cautious when interpreting changes between quarters because the series are not seasonally adjusted and few data points are presented, especially when looking at figures and tables in this release. It is therefore recommended that comparisons are made with the same quarter a year ago or between years. We plan to develop these statistics to be seasonally adjusted in the future.

The UK trade in services data have been produced as part of planned improvements to our trade statistics described in Section 3.3 of the UK trade development plan: 2017.

This quarterly services release contains 32 service types by 67 countries. While service type by partner country data are published annually in The Pink Book, this publication has an increased level of detail and is produced quarterly, covering periods from Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2016 to Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019. This was made possible partly through fuller use of the improved quarterly country breakdown derived from the increased and optimised quarterly International Trade in Services (ITIS) Survey.

These data are our best estimates of bilateral UK trade flows, compiled following internationally agreed standards and using a wide range of robust data sources. However, in some cases, alternative estimates of bilateral trade flows are available from the statistical agencies for those countries, or through central databases such as UN Comtrade. Differences between estimates are known as trade asymmetries and are a known aspect of international trade statistics affecting bilateral estimates across the globe, not just the UK.

We are heavily engaged in analysis of these asymmetries, developing strong bilateral relationships with other countries to understand, explain and potentially reduce them. We have published a series of analyses showing comparisons and the relative strengths of different estimates, which users may wish to reference to help them better understand the quality of our bilateral trade estimates.

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3. UK imports and exports of services both increased in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 compared with the same quarter a year ago

The UK trade in services surplus widened £0.7 billion to £24.0 billion in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019, compared with Quarter 3 2018. This was mainly driven by a rise in exports, which increased £3.9 billion to £82.0 billion over the period, an increase of 5.0% (Table 1). UK imports of services increased 5.8% over the same period, from £54.8 billion in Quarter 3 2018 to £58.0 billion in Quarter 3 2019.

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4. Exports of services in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 increased with both non-EU and EU countries

Services exports to non-EU countries increased £2.2 billion to £49.1 billion between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2018 and Quarter 3 2019, whereas exports to EU countries increased by a lesser £1.7 billion to £33.0 billion over the same period.

The largest country-level increase in exports to non-EU countries was to the United States, which rose by £0.8 billion to £19.5 billion. This was mainly driven by exports of other business services, which increased by £0.6 billion between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019, partially offset by exports of intellectual property, which decreased £0.3 billion over the same period.

The largest country-level increase in exports to EU countries was to France, which increased by £0.3 billion to £4.7 billion between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019. This was mainly driven by intellectual property, which grew by £0.2 billion over the period.

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5. The United States remain the UK’s largest trading partner for services exports

The United States (US) remains the UK’s largest services export partner, accounting for £19.5 billion, or 23.7% of all UK exports of services in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 (Table 2). This was followed by exports to Germany and France, which were £5.3 billion (6.4%) and £4.7 billion (5.7%), respectively.

The US had the largest increase in exports of all countries between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019, of £0.8 billion. Exports increased for six of the top 10 exporting countries between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019. Switzerland had the largest decrease in exports of all countries between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019, of £0.7 billion to £3.3 billion. This was mainly driven by falls in exports of other business services, and telecommunications, computer and information services, which fell by £0.4 billion and £0.3 billion, respectively.

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6. Exports of other business services remains the UK’s largest export service type

Most service types saw increases in exports for Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 compared with Quarter 3 2018. Other business services saw the largest rise, increasing £1.7 billion (6.9%) over the period to £26.4 billion (Table 3). The increase in other business services exports was largely driven by a £1.3 billion increase to professional and management consulting services to £12.1 billion (Figure 2).

Other business services continues to be the largest export service type accounting for 32.1% of total services exports in Quarter 3 2019.

Figure 2 shows the value for each component of other business services in Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019. Legal, accounting, management consulting and public relations made up the largest share of other business services, accounting for 36.4% in Quarter 3 2019.

Legal, accounting, management consulting and public relations is a subcomponent of professional and management consulting services.

In Quarter 3 2019, the United States (US) was the largest export partner for other business services, accounting for 30.3%, or £8.0 billion (Figure 3) of all UK other business services exports. Within other business services, the US exported £4.0 billion of professional and management consulting services.

Ireland was the second-largest export partner for other business services, followed by Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands (Figure 3).

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7. Imports of services from both EU and non-EU countries, were higher in Quarter 3 2019 than Quarter 3 2018

Imports of services from non-EU countries increased by £1.8 billion to £29.2 billion in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 compared with Quarter 3 2018. The largest increase of imports from non-EU countries was from the United States, which increased by £0.7 billion to £10.5 billion. This was mainly driven by other business services, which increased by £0.5 billion between Quarter 3 2018 and Quarter 3 2019.

Imports of services from the EU increased £1.4 billion to £28.8 billion in Quarter 3 2019 compared with Quarter 3 2018. The largest increase of imports from the EU was from Sweden, which grew by £0.6 billion to £1.6 billion.

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8. The three highest-value trading partners for imports of services accounted for over one-third of total services imports in Quarter 3 2019

The United States remains the UK’s largest import partner, accounting for £10.5 billion, or 18.1% of services imports in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019, followed by Spain and France. Imports from Spain and France accounted for £5.1 billion (8.7%) and £4.8 billion (8.3%) of total UK services imports, respectively (Table 4).

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9. Imports of travel in Quarter 3 2019 accounted for 31.2% of total UK imports

Though travel was the largest service type for imports in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019, accounting for £18.1 billion (31.2%) of total imports, imports of travel saw a 0.8% decrease compared with the same quarter a year ago (Table 5). Other business services was the second largest services import, contributing £17.5 billion (30.2%) of total services imports in Quarter 3 2019, an increase of 7.8%.

Users should note that these data are non-seasonally adjusted and show the seasonal trends throughout the year, with the majority of imports of travel seen in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) and Quarter 3. Travel imports cover goods and services provided to UK residents during visits abroad of less than one year. This excludes students and medical patients who remain residents of their country of origin, even if the length of stay in another economy is more than a year. Transport to and from the UK is excluded from travel, and shown as passenger services under transportation.

In Quarter 3 2019, Spain was the largest import partner of travel services, accounting for £3.6 billion (19.9%), of which £3.3 billion was from personal travel.

The United States was the second-largest import partner for imports of travel, followed by France, Italy and Greece (Figure 5).

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10. Explore the new trade in services data with our interactive tools

We have produced some interactive tools to help explore the data.

Data are provided in as much detail as possible without disclosing the details of any individual companies, but this means some figures have been suppressed to protect confidentiality. The interactive tool will show no data available if the data are zero, suppressed or unavailable at this level of detail.

Select a country by hovering over it or using the drop-down menu.

Figure 6: UK trade in services with the rest of the world, exports and imports, 2018

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What about trade in a particular service type?

Use our interactive tools to understand UK trade of a particular service type. Select a service type from the drop-down menu, or click through the levels to explore the data.

Figure 7: UK exports, 2018

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Figure 8: UK imports, 2018

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What questions do you have about the new data? Do you find these tools helpful? Please email trade@ons.gov.uk with your comments.

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11. Trade in services data

UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Dataset | Released 22 January 2020
Quarterly estimates of service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted.

UK trade in services: all countries, non-seasonally adjusted
Dataset | Released 22 January 2020
Quarterly estimates of total trade in services by country, non-seasonally adjusted.

UK trade, quarterly trade in goods and services tables
Dataset | Released 22 January 2020
Quarterly estimates of total trade, trade in goods and trade in services by country, non-seasonally adjusted.

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12. Quality and methodology

Trade in services covers export and import activity across 12 categories:

  • manufacturing

  • maintenance and repair services

  • transportation

  • travel

  • construction

  • insurance and pensions

  • financial

  • intellectual property

  • telecommunications services

  • other business services

  • personal, cultural and recreational

  • government

Trade in services statistics are derived from a variety of sources, though the International Trade in Services (ITIS) Survey and the International Passenger Survey (IPS) form the bulk of these data. Most of our data sources are supplied with geographical breakdowns to enable the production of trade in services statistics by country and service type. If the data source does not include geographical breakdowns, the data are estimated using a closely aligned source.

Detailed methodological notes are published in the UK Balance of Payments, The Pink Book 2019.

The UK trade methodology webpages have been developed to provide detailed information about the methods used to produce UK trade 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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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Chloe Gibbs
trade@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 651988