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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Trade in the UK
Goods manufactured and imported

The UK is one of the leading trading nations in the world. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of commercial services, and the eighth largest exporter and fifth largest importer of merchandise (Source: World Trade Organization, 2005).

Leading destinations for UK products and services include:

  • the USA (15 per cent of all exports),
  • Germany (11.6 per cent) and
  • France (9.8 per cent).

Exports to the European Union as a whole accounted for around 58 per cent of all UK exports (Source: ONS, The Pink Book, 2005).


Exports of goods and services - $468.8 billion f.o.b. (2006)

Products: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco.

BP logoThe chemical industry is Britain's largest export earner. British Petroleum (BP) is Britain's biggest industrial company.UK pharmaceutical companies make three of the world's best selling medicines: 'Zantac' (made by Glaxo Wellcome) for ulcer treatment; 'Tenormin' (ICI), a beta-blocker for high blood pressure; and 'AZT' (Glaxo Wellcome), a drug used in the treatment of AIDs.Britain is also a major supplier of machinery, vehicles, aerospace products, electrical and electronic equipment. Britain is responsible for 10 per cent of the world's export of services, including banking, insurance, stockbroking, consultancy and computer programming.

Export Partners (2006):

US 13.9%,
Germany 10.9%,
France 10.4%,
Ireland 7.1%,
Netherlands 6.3%,
Belgium 5.2%,
Spain 4.5%,


Imports of goods and services - $603 billion f.o.b. (2006)

Products: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, foodstuffs. Food, beverages and tobacco account for half of non-manufactured imports, whilst machinery and road vehicles account for two-thirds of finished imported manufactures. Other major imports include chemicals, fuels, clothing and footwear.

Import Partners (2006):

Germany 12.8%,
US 8.9%,
France 6.9%,
Netherlands 6.6%,
China 5.3%
Norway 4.9%
Belgium 4.5%,

Natural resources:

coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land

Find out more about Britain's Natural resources

Mines and Factories

During the 19th century Britain used to have many coal and iron mines and had the natural resources to make textiles, steel and ships. Today, coal and textiles can be produced more cheaply in other countries and so many British factories and mines have closed.

Tin mine
A disused tin mine

Areas like south Wales, central Scotland, the north of England (the Midlands, Merseyside, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Newcastle) and London were important industrial centres.

Find out more about mines in Britain

Economy in Britain
Go to Economy in Britain

Industries in Britain

Click to find out about the industries in Britain

Other pages on the same theme

See Britain at work

Industries in each area of England

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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