EFTA-UK Trade in 2017

Published 09-03-2018
Last year the EFTA Secretariat published a note on trade between EFTA and the United Kingdom, highlighting the importance of the trade relationship for all EFTA States and for the UK.

In 2017, the UK remains EFTA’s third largest export market for goods after Germany and the US. For Norway it is the single largest export market on the back of strong oil and gas exports, while it is Switzerland’s fifth largest market and Iceland’s third largest after the Netherlands and Spain. Vice versa, the EFTA markets contribute about 5 percent of the UK’s external trade for both goods and services.

In 2017 EFTA exports of goods to the UK increased from EUR 27 to 29 billion, largely on the back of  Norwegian exports of oil and gas that increased from EUR 13.7 to 16 billion. The second largest export category, pharmaceuticals, declined from EUR 4.7 to 4.2 billion, in part due to currency effects. The UK is a key market for EFTA seafood, and the single largest export destination for Icelandic fish. In 2017, seafood exports declined both in quantity and value. Electrical machinery grew by a third, due to a sharp increase of exports of wind turbines from Norway. Exports of Swiss jewellery also performed well in 2017. While oil and gas make up more than half of EFTA exports to the UK, EFTA imports from the UK are more diversified. 16 % of imports in 2017 were organic chemicals, followed by vehicles and mechanical machinery. In 2017 imports from the UK declined by 2 %, largely because of reduced Swiss imports of organic chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Jewellery and aircraft parts were however strong performers. 

Trade in services between the EFTA States and the UK is mainly concentrated in professional services towards specialised industries within the offshore and maritime sectors, R&D-oriented sectors (e.g. pharma), banking and finance, and transport and travel industries. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, the EFTA States’ trade in services with the UK rose from GBP 15.5 billion in 2010 to GBP 19.3 billion in 2015, accounting for 5.3% of the UK’s total trade in services. Switzerland accounted for the largest share (79.2%) of the EFTA States’ combined trade, amounting to GBP 15.3 billion. Norway’s share stood at 18.2%, valued at GBP 3.5 billion, Iceland’s at 2.1% (GBP 401 million) and Liechtenstein's at 0.5% (GBP 90 million). While EFTA enjoys a large trade surplus in goods, EFTA is a large net importer of services, with a net deficit in services of GBP 9.3 billion in 2015.

Read the full 45-pages note by the EFTA Secretariat here.

Economic Officer
Secretary-General's Office

+41 223322 612