The annual analysis of the sector UK Manufacturing: 2019/20 The Facts, published by Make UK and Santander, shows that whilst the United States is the single biggest export market for UK manufactured goods and services, worth £118.2bn, exports to the top seven EU markets alone amounted to £236.5bn in the same period (£256.1bn including Switzerland).

Broken down by sector, the export picture of manufactured goods is dominated by Transport (25.5%) and Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals (17.9%), which highlight the importance of these sectors to the success of UK industry overall, the aerospace and automotive sectors in particular.

The importance of the top two dominant exporting sectors is also reflected in contributions to business R&D, where pharmaceuticals and chemicals and the transport sector accounted for almost 70% of the total spend between them.

The transport sector also led the way in export growth, increasing by 7.4%, largely on the back of continued growth in aerospace, closely followed by food and drink which increased exports by 5.3%.

The analysis also shows that manufacturing remains central to the success of the economy overall, accounting for two thirds of overall R&D, 45% of exports, 15% of business investment and 2.7m high value jobs. With annual output of £192 billion, the UK remains the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world.

By sector size, Food and Drink remains the single biggest sector contributing 15.1% of GVA worth roughly £73.1 billion, closely followed by Transport (14.9% worth £72.1bn) and Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals (14.2% worth £68.7bn). By region, the North West is the biggest single by output, worth £28.5bn, closely followed by London and the South East worth £28.1bn.

Seamus Nevin, chief economist at Make UK, says: “These figures lay bare the overwhelming importance for manufacturers of trade with our closest market and the need to avoid imposing any barriers which will make this more difficult.

“Whilst the United States remains the biggest market and, presents significant opportunities for export growth, it is a fallacy to believe that geography is not the biggest factor driving trade. For UK manufacturers access to their biggest market must be a premium.

“The figures also provide an important reminder that we’re still one of the top ten biggest manufacturing nations and we want to see policy makers working with industry to help move UK manufacturing up the rankings.”

A PDF fact card can be downloaded from the Make UK website.