UK-Arctic Trade and Investment Observatory

By Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes
Greenwich Park, with the City of London in the background.

Project Lead: Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes

Project Team: Mikhail Radkevitch, Helena Roberts, Shaan Afzal-Khan, Haroon Faqir, Joe Godbold


First published: 18 February 2021
Last updated: 11 January 2022

On the occasion of its fifth anniversary since its establishment, Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) is pleased to join forces with the London-based investment advisory firm High North Advisers (HNA) to launch the UK-Arctic Trade and Investment Observatory, a one-stop shop to find the latest statistics, analysis and commentary about the UK’s trade and investment relationships across the Arctic, Nordic and North Atlantic regions. The PRPI-HNA Observatory is to be a permanent and regularly updated feature that builds on PRPI’s expertise and experience in trade and investment policy and promotion, and HNA’s background in providing investment advisory services, to showcase and strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relationships between the UK and its Northern partners: the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Russia. 

The PRPI-HNA Observatory gleans the most relevant data from the UK Department of International Trade (DIT)’s Trade and Investment Factsheets that were released, for the first time, on 12 February 2021, and that provide valuable insights into the UK’s trade and investment relationships with its Arctic, Nordic and North Atlantic trading partners overseas. Over the coming months, the Observatory will be updated every time new data becomes available or there is a significant new development, and as and when PRPI publishes analysis and commentary about these trading relationships. In the case of Greenland and Faroe Islands, there may be discrepancies between the data in the DIT factsheets and the data in PRPI’s reports due to the different assumptions and methodologies used – for instance, what percentage of Greenland’s exports to the UK entering from Denmark is treated in the UK as imports from Greenland versus imports from Denmark? Any PRPI reports about Greenland or Faroe Islands would include, as far as possible, all imports into the UK of products originating in Greenland or the Faroe Islands (even if entering via Denmark) within the statistics for UK-Greenland trade or UK-Faroes trade, as opposed to UK-Denmark trade.

As evident in the overview provided below, the Arctic and Nordic states are highly important to the UK both as export markets and import sources. 6 of the 8 Arctic Council member states feature among the UK’s 25 largest trading partners: USA (1st), Norway (13th), Sweden (16th), Canada (17th), Russia (20th), Denmark (24th), Finland (37th) and Iceland (74th). They constitute some of the UK’s biggest export markets – USA (1st), Canada (13th), Sweden (15th), Norway (17th), Denmark (25th), Russia (26th), Finland (39th) and Iceland (79th) – and leading import sources – USA (1st), Norway (10th), Sweden (16th), Russia (17th), Denmark (21st), Canada (21st), Finland (38th) and Iceland (65th). Yearly fluctuations aside, the UK and the US, furthermore, have the strongest bilateral investment relationship in the world, with two-way direct investment amounts to more than USD 1 trillion. UK companies in the US employ more than 1.2 million Americans, while US companies in the UK employ more than 1.5 million Britons. Provided below are the statistics for the UK’s trade with each Arctic and Nordic country.

Mainly due to its strategic geographic location, but also through its historical, cultural and economic ties, the UK sits at the heart of the Northern Arc of Prosperity spanning the Arctic, Nordic and North Atlantic regions. As the UK embraces its future as an independent trading nation, there has never been a more opportune time for it to look North in a more concerted fashion and position itself as a strategic gateway between its Northern neighbourhood and the world beyond. For its Arctic, Nordic and North Atlantic partners, the UK offers access not just to the world’s financial capital, but also to numerous world-leading centres/clusters of expertise, innovation, influence and capital, and is best placed to serve as both an attractive market and a crucial stepping stone for companies seeking to scale up and internationalise. The PRPI-HNA Observatory aims to serve as a valuable resource for stakeholders seeking to understand, monitor and advance the two-way flow of goods, services and capital between the UK and its Northern neighbours.


USA

Seward Harbour, Alaska Seward Harbour, Alaska © Srini Sundarrajan/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • Largest trading partner (accounting for 16.7% of total UK trade)
    • 2nd largest goods trading partner (accounting for 10.8% of UK goods trade)
    • Largest services trading partner (accounting for 27% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • Largest export market (accounting for 21.2% of total UK exports)
    • Largest goods export market (accounting for 15% of UK goods exports)
    • Largest services export market (accounting for 28% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • Largest import market (accounting for 12.2% of total UK imports)
    • 4th largest goods import market (accounting for 8.1% of UK goods imports)
    • Largest services import market (accounting for 25.2% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £201.6 billion (decrease of 9.3% or £20.6 billion from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to USA: £126.4 billion (decrease of 9.9% or £13.9 billion from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from USA: £75.2 billion (decrease of 8.1% or £6.6 billion from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £379.7 billion (25.3% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £381.6 billion (24.5% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Canada

Vancouver, Canada Vancouver, Canada © Jerry Meaden/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 14th trading partner (accounting for 1.7% of total UK trade)
    • 16th largest goods trading partner (accounting for 1.7% of UK goods trade)
    • 15th largest services trading partner (accounting for 1.8% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 13th largest export market (accounting for 2.0% of total UK exports)
    • 13th largest goods export market (accounting for 1.9% of UK goods exports)
    • 11th largest services export market (accounting for 2.0% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 19th largest import market (accounting for 1.5% of total UK imports)
    • 16th largest goods import market (accounting for 1.6% of UK goods imports)
    • 18th largest services import market (accounting for 1.4% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £20.9 billion (decrease of 7.4% or £1.4 billion from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Canada: £11.6 billion (decrease of 5.5% or £672 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Canada: £9.4 billion (increase of 29.2% or £2.1 billion from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £32.1 billion (2.1% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £20.0 billion (1.3% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 13th largest trading partner (accounting for 1.9% of total UK trade)
    • 10th largest goods trading partner (accounting for 2.4% of UK goods trade)
    • 24th largest services trading partner (accounting for 1.0% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 21st largest export market (accounting for 1.2% of total UK exports)
    • 21st largest goods export market (accounting for 1.3% of UK goods exports)
    • 22nd largest services export market (accounting for 1.1% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 10th largest import market (accounting for 2.6% of total UK imports)
    • 9th largest goods import market (accounting for 3.1% of UK goods imports)
    • 24th largest services import market (accounting for 0.8% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £22.9 billion (increase of 2.8% or £632 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Norway: £7.1 billion (decrease of 9.6% or £760 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Norway: £15.8 billion (increase of 9.7% or £1.4 billion from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £1 billion (0.1% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £7.9 billion (0.5% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden Stockholm, Sweden © Syuqor7/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 17th largest trading partner (accounting for 1.6% of total UK trade)
    • 19th largest goods trading partner (accounting for 1.3% of UK goods trade)
    • 12th largest services trading partner (accounting for 2.0% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 16th largest export market (accounting for 1.5% of total UK exports)
    • 17th largest goods export market (accounting for 1.4% of UK goods exports)
    • 17th largest services export market (accounting for 1.6% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 18th largest import market (accounting for 1.6% of total UK imports)
    • 20th largest goods import market (accounting for 1.2% of UK goods imports)
    • 11th largest services import market (accounting for 2.7% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £18.7 billion (decrease of 4.1% or £801 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Sweden: £9.0 billion (decrease of 3.4% or £317 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Sweden: £9.7 billion (decrease of 4.7% or £484 million from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £26.1 billion (1.7% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £9.1 billion (0.6% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Finland

FinlandHelsinki, Finland © Juha Riisanen/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 34th largest trading partner (accounting for 0.5% of total UK trade)
    • 33rd largest goods trading partner (accounting for 0.5% of UK goods trade)
    • 31st largest services trading partner (accounting for 0.3% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 40th largest export market (accounting for 0.4% of total UK exports)
    • 30th largest goods export market (accounting for 0.4% of UK goods exports)
    • 36th largest services export market (accounting for 0.4% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 33rd largest import market (accounting for 0.5% of total UK imports)
    • 28th largest goods import market (accounting for 0.6% of UK goods imports)
    • 52nd largest services import market (accounting for 0.2% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £5.4 billion (decrease of 2.7% or £151 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Finland: £2.3 billion (decrease of 20.7% or £597 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Finland: £3.2 billion (increase of 16.5% or 446 million from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £2.8 billion (0.2% of the total UK outward FDI stock)

Inward stock of FDI (2019): £569 million (<0.1% of the total UK inward FDI stock)


Denmark

Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark © Droz Jean-Paul/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 24th largest trading partner (accounting for 1% of total UK trade)
    • 23rd largest goods trading partner (accounting for 0.9% of UK goods trade)
    • 22nd largest services trading partner (accounting for 1.1% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 25th largest export market (accounting for 1% of total UK exports) 
    • 25th largest goods export market (accounting for 0.8% of UK goods exports)
    • 20th largest services export market (accounting for 1.3% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 21st largest import market (accounting for 1% of total UK imports)
    • 21st largest goods import market (accounting for 1% of UK goods imports)
    • 22nd largest services import market (accounting for 0.9% of UK services imports) 
  • Total trade in goods and services: £11.9 billion (decrease of 9.7% or £1.3 billion from previous year) 
  • Total UK exports to Denmark: £6 billion (decrease of 3.5% or £215 million from previous year) 
  • Total UK imports from Denmark: £6 billion (decrease of 15.2% or £1.1 billion from previous year) 
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £6.4 billion (0.4% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £7.2 billion (0.5% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Greenland

Ilulissat Ilulissat, Greenland © Dwayne Ryan Menezes

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 200th largest trading partner (accounting for <0.1% of total UK trade)
    • Joint 191st largest goods trading partner (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods trade)
    • 187th largest services trading partner (accounting for <0.1% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 192nd largest export market (accounting for <0.1% of total UK exports)
    • 193rd largest goods export market (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods exports)
    • 170th largest services export market (accounting for <0.1% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • Joint 188th largest import market (accounting for <0.1% of total UK imports)
    • Joint 152nd largest goods import market (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods imports)
    • Joint 211th largest services import market (accounting for <0.1% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £12 million (increase of 9.1% or £1 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Greenland: £10 million (decrease of 9.1% or £1 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Greenland: £2 million (increase of £2 million from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £5 million (<0.1% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): <£1 million (<0.1% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Note: According to PRPI’s data based on submissions by companies engaged in UK-Greenland trade, the bilateral trade between the two countries is much greater. For additional information, check PRPI’s UK-Greenland trade policy brief, which has the latest data as of November 2020. An addendum to the report will be published here early in March 2021, with the latest statistics as of end-February 2021.


Faroe Islands

Torshavn, Faroe Islands Torshavn, Faroe Islands © sandrinelle/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 90th largest trading partner (accounting for 0.1% of total UK trade)
    • 92nd largest goods trading partner (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods trade)
    • 74th largest services trading partner (accounting for 0.1% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • Joint 155th largest export market (accounting for <0.1% of total UK exports)
    • 130th largest goods export market (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods exports)
    • 205th largest services export market (accounting for <0.1% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 65th largest import market (accounting for 0.1% of total UK imports)
    • 79th largest goods import market (accounting for <0.1% of UK goods imports)
    • 47th largest services import market (accounting for 0.3% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £612 million (increase of 125.8% or £341 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Faroe Islands: £29 million (increase of 11.5% or £3 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Faroe Islands: £583 million (increase of 138% or £338 million from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): <£1 million (<0.1% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £3 million (<0.1% of the total UK inward FDI stock)

Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland Reykjavik, Iceland © krismadden/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q1 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 72nd largest trading partner (accounting for 0.1% of total UK trade)
    • 61st largest goods trading partner (accounting for 0.1% of UK goods trade)
    • 95th largest services trading partner (accounting for less than 0.1% of UK services trade)
  • Rank as export market:
    • 80th largest export market (accounting for 0.1% of total UK exports)
    • 68th largest goods export market (accounting for 0.1% of UK goods exports)
    • 95th largest services export market (accounting for less than 0.1% of UK services exports)
  • Rank of import market:
    • 70th largest import market (accounting for 0.1% of total UK imports)
    • 60th largest goods import market (accounting for 0.1% of UK goods imports)
    • 83rd largest services import market (accounting for 0.1% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £986 million (decrease of 26.0% or £347 million from previous year)
  • Total UK exports to Iceland: £446 million (decrease of 21.6% or £123 million from previous year)
  • Total UK imports from Iceland: £540 million (decrease of 29.3% or £224 million from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £56 million (% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): Not available due to data disclosure

Russia

Moscow, Russia Moscow, Russia © Harry Popoff/Flickr

Period: Four quarters to the end of Q2 2021 (unless specified otherwise)

  • Rank as trading partner (goods and services):
    • 20th largest trading partner (accounting for 1.2% of total UK trade) 
    • 17th largest goods trading partner (accounting for 1.6% of UK goods trade)
    • 31st largest services trading partner (accounting for 0.6% of UK services trade) 
  • Rank as export market:
    • 26th largest export market (accounting for 0.7% of total UK exports)
    • 24th largest goods export market (accounting for 0.8% of UK goods exports)
    • 29th largest services export market (accounting for 0.6% of UK services exports) 
  • Rank of import market:
    • 17th largest import market (accounting for 1.7% of total UK imports) 
    • 12th largest goods import market (accounting for 2.1% of UK goods imports)
    • 34th largest services import market (accounting for 0.5% of UK services imports)
  • Total trade in goods and services: £14.6 billion (increase of 12.8% or £1.7 billion from previous year) 
  • Total UK exports to Russia: £4.2 billion (decrease of 7.3% or £332 million from previous year) 
  • Total UK imports from Russia: £10.4 billion (increase of 23.7% or £2 billion from previous year)
  • Outward stock of FDI (2019): £12.3 billion (0.8% of the total UK outward FDI stock)
  • Inward stock of FDI (2019): £655 million (<0.1% of the total UK inward FDI stock)
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