Trade Data Analysis

UK-Africa trading relationship

UK-Africa trading relationship

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This trade data update documents the trading relationship between Africa and the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2016. The analysis uses UNCOMTRADE data sourced from the International Trade Centre (ITC) Trade Map, and is expressed in United States Dollars.


In 2016, Africa’s exports to the UK stood at US$16.89 billion, registering a marginal 1.96% increase from the previous year’s total of US$16.57 billion, while Africa’s imports from the UK stood at US$11.40 billion, representing a 5.69% decline from the previous year’s total imports of US$112.08 billion.

The top 20 export commodities comprise of gold and platinum, petroleum oil, petroleum gas, motors (mainly from South Africa), cocoa beans, diamonds, citrus fruits, grapes, tea, coffee, cocoa beans, and wine of fresh grapes. Top 20 major imported commodities include motor cars, petroleum oils, turbojets, powered aircraft, medicaments, taps and cocks, alcoholic spirits, aircraft parts, worn clothing, and electric generators.

Major exporting countries in 2016 were South Africa accounting for (58%), Nigeria (7%), Algeria (5%), Morocco (5%), Egypt (5%), Cote D’Ivoire (3%), Kenya (2%), Angola (2%), Libya (2%), and Ghana (2%).

Since 2012, Africa’s exports to the UK have declined by nearly 50%, from US$US$32.43 billion to the 2016 levels of US$16.89 billion, mainly due to falling commodity prices and global economic slowdown. The commodity driven economic growth driven by a boom in commodity prices has impacted on Africa-UK trade profile. The declining export position has culminated into a shrinking balance of trade surplus for African countries.

Trade data spreadsheet

This synopsis should be read in conjunction with the accompanying spreadsheet and contains the following data:

  • The United Kingdom (UK)’s trade balance with African countries, by country;

  • Africa’s total imports from the UK, disaggregated by importing country at the HS4 level;

  • Africa’s total exports to the UK, disaggregated by importing country at the HS4 level;

  • Africa’s imports and exports products at HS4 level;

  • The trade profiles for COMESA, EAC, SACU, SADC, ECOWAS, and Maghreb;

  • The top 20 African exports to UK, and top 20 African imports from UK at the HS4 level, by country for all African countries; and

  • Graphical illustrations of UK’s trading relationship with Africa’s Regional Economic Communities.

This Brief updates a previous analysis of the UK-Africa trading relationship over the period 2006 to 2015.


Synopsis: UK-Africa Trading Relationship | July 2017 - Author(s): Brian Mureverwi
Spreadsheet: UK-Africa trade data | July 2017 - Author(s): Brian Mureverwi

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