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 £2.5bn 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.

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.

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UK investment in Least Development Countries has fallen by 30%

New data released by the Office for National Statistics, following a request from Development Monitor, shows that:

  • The UK’s outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) position in Least Development Countries (LDCs) fell 29.5% from 2014 to 2015
  • There was a net disinvestment of £2.7 billion by UK companies in those countries 2015
  • UK FDI in LDCs accounted for less than 1% of the UK’s total outward FDI position in 2015

Over the same period, the UK’s total outward FDI positions (in all countries) fell slightly (2.5%) from £1,078.7 billion in 2014 to £1,052.1 billion in 2015.

Find out more about the UK’s interactions with Least Developed Countries using our financial flows and trade dashboards.

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Explore UK trade relations with developing countries

Development Monitor has launched a new trade dashboard which explores the UK’s trade with developing countries and shows the importance of this trade for both the UK and people in developing countries.

The dashboard supports Development Monitor’s submission to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Trade out of Poverty inquiry on Commonwealth countries and its submission to the International Trade Committee inquiry into trade with developing countries.

The dashboard helps to answer questions like:

  • Which developing countries are most dependent on the UK as an export market?
  • How important is trade with the UK for Commonwealth developing countries?
  • What are the top developing country markets for UK goods and services exports?
  • Do developing countries that have signed up to an Economic Partnership Agreement export more to the UK than those that haven’t?

If you find the dashboard useful, or have suggestions for new features, please get in contact.

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