The UK's International Trading Position - Activity

This Activity is designed to be used in the classroom or as a homework task to support the teaching and learning of the UK''s International Trading Position.

The UK's International Trading Position - Activity

The aims of this Activity are to appraise the international competitiveness of the UK in international trade and evaluate the performance of UK exports and imports since 1993.

The spreadsheet provides information on UK exports and imports between the years 1993 and 2003. During these ten years a significant amount of things changed in the world both politically and economically. (


You will be using the spreadsheet to conduct an analysis of the UK's international trading position.( Your analysis will include the following:

  • The changes in UK exports and imports of goods
  • The changes in the UK exports and imports of services
  • The changes in the balance of exports and imports of goods and services
  • The changes in the share of UK trade with the EU, the Americas, Asia and the rest of the world
  • Some possible reasons for the changes you have identified
  • An evaluation of the political and economic factors involved in explaining the changing position of UK international trade

Current account with the European Union

Current account with the USA

Current account with the European Union: The 'Pink Book' gives a detailed account of the UK's current trading position. What is happening to the balance of trade with the EU and why?
Current account with the USA: Is the UK more or less competitive as a result of changes in the way businesses are run and organised, through macro-economic policy or through other competitive pressures?
Source: United Kingdom Balance of Payments The Pink Book 2004, page 115 [PDF, 2.5 MB] (Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.) (

Containers and cranes at the docks.

Image: How have UK imports and exports changed over the last ten years or so? Copyright: Alex Furr, stock.xchng

Some Guidance

  • When conducting your analysis you will need to identify the trends in the data you are using. The data has been split into different packages to help make the analysis of each section easier.
  • Use the graphing tool in Excel to present your data in a form that might make it easier to interpret.
  • It is often useful to look at the rate of change in the data to make more informed judgments about what is happening. To calculate the rate of change between two years, use the following formula:

    % change = change in data between year 1 and year 2 / data from year 1 x 100
  • Use the BBC's On this Day to search out the major political and economic events that may have helped contribute to the changing patterns of trade and the UK's trading position.(
  • Look at the long term trends in exchange rates between the pound sterling and the other major currencies - US dollar, Hong Kong dollar, euro (and the pre-euro European currencies).
  • Use the Biz/ed's Key Economic Data for more guidance on analysing economic data.(