When you look at trade by country around the world the major trading markets are not a surprise.
the list of countries which export the top 10 is dominated by the countries you would expect. China / USA / Germany / Japan / South Korea / France / Netherlands / Italy / United Kingdom & Canada.
Pretty much all of them were fairly safe bets with China being way out there in terms of Exports (Millions of $).
What most people might not realise is that China is also way up towards the top of the list for imports by country. USA / China / Germany / Japan / France / United kingdom / Hong Kong / South Korea / Canada / Netherlands.
With the exception of Italy and Hong Kong the names at the top of the export / import list by country remain fairly static so should these be the markets freight forwarders target.
Targeting trade by country
Freight forwarders generally have quite a scatter-gun approach to trade. Trying to offer a full breadth of services to all countries. Less a specialist approach and more a one size fits all. Less focus on trade by country and more about getting there name out there and seeing who comes knocking. Is this the best approach for either the freight forwarder or the shipper?
There is an argument to be had for both. Specialist forwarders can provide more knowledge and be closer to your business. If they specialise in a shippers’ product market or country then you may see additional benefits.
Who does the UK trade with
As an example we will use the UK. The UK runs a trade deficit with with the biggest economies within the European Union. The UK has a trade surplus with 67 countries worldwide. Ireland, Switzerland, the UAE, Saudi Arabia to name a few countries we trade by surplus. With BREXIT almost upon us trade deals are being completed. Switzerland’s trade deal is secured with more close to completion.
The biggest company we have a trade surplus with is the USA and the biggest company we have a trade deficit with is Germany. Germany’s figures for 2017 from the Pink Book shows a trade deficit of over £25 billion pounds. China is also around £25 Billion but the volume of imports is much smaller than Germany’s. This may surprise many people but trade by country with the UK is mainly done with our closest partners.
£100 Billion exports to the USA
When you look at trade by country it is difficult for the UK to ignore the USA. The USA is the UK’s largest destination for exports and second largest for imports. The press like to group the European union together as one trading partner and when this is done then the EU is our biggest trading partner. 43% of all UK exports in 2016 went to the EU whereas only 18% went to the USA. The USA figure though is growing whereas the EU figure continues to fall. With the fact that the US is a trade surplus market it’s importance to UK trade cannot be under-estimated.
Shipping lines and airlines offer direct services into the USA allowing for easy trade. Some would say that the FMC doesn’t really help matters with their strict rules but freight forwarders specialising in the USA could see freight volumes continue to increease.