New analysis shows significance of UK services trade with world’s poorest countries

Analysis of trade data by Development Monitor shows the significance of the UK’s service exports to Least Developed Countries.

The UK exported £2.7bn worth of services – such as financial services and management consulting – to Least Developed Countries in 2017, up from £2.0bn in 2016. The UN defines Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as low-income countries facing severe impediments to sustainable development. The UK also imported £0.7bn worth of services from these countries in 2017, down from £0.9bn in 2016.

Development Monitor’s analysis allows easy comparison of different flows to and from developing countries. It shows that UK service exports to LDCs are similar in value to the UK’s bilateral aid to those countries. UK bilateral aid to LDCs was £2.4bn in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available).

Several Least Developed Countries spent more on UK services in 2016 than they received in UK bilateral aid, including:

  • Afghanistan: UK service exports £421m, UK bilateral aid £235m
  • Bangladesh: UK service exports £340m, UK bilateral aid £149m
  • Uganda: UK service exports £133m, UK bilateral aid £111m
  • Mozambique: UK service exports £63m, UK bilateral aid £55m

LDCs also spent a greater proportion of their national income on UK service exports than richer developing countries. In 2017, UK services exports were on average worth:

  • 0.31% of GDP for Least Developed Countries
  • 0.12% of GDP for Upper Middle Income countries (such as Brazil and China)

UK service exports to the Solomon Islands were worth 4.74% of their GDP in 2017, the highest percentage for any developing country. This is equivalent to £78.52 per person, compared to an average of £4.64 per person for other developing countries.

More trends and analysis can be found on Development Monitor’s financial flows dashboard.