Britain’s Export Figures

One of the decaying features of British journalism is its extreme reluctance nowadays to check its opinions against ascertainable facts, and when in error refuse to publish corrections.

The most likely area for propagating nonsense[1] is anything involving numbers relating to the economy, especially when billions and percentages are involved.

A familiar canard repeated over and over is that “financial services are Britain’s biggest export industry[2].  According to the latest data from the UK National Statistical Office’s Pink Book (issue July 2013 for 2012) the relevant figures are:

2012 Exports of Services

£ billion

Total Financial (Table 3.6)




  Professional & Technical (Table 3.9)[3]


  IT services (Table 3.7)[4]


  Royalties & Licences (Table 3.8)


Total Technical (non-financial services – Tables 3.7-3.9)



2012 Exports of Goods

£ billion

Total Exports of Goods (Table 2.1)




Of which Chemicals Industry (including polymers, pharmaceuticals)


  Engineered Components


  Oil Products


  Road Vehicles


Financial Services were thus the second largest services export sector (Professional & Technical Services overtook Financial Services in 2006) and the fifth largest export sector overall in 2012.


[1]  E.g. the Daily Mail of 28th September 2012 ran the headline: “Britain now producing more cars than Germany”.  Britain in 2012 was 14th in the world’s list of producers of cars (actual figures: Britain 1.6 million and Germany 5.6 million, 4th in the world).

[2]  As in the Economist’s leader of 9th November 2013 under the jibe “Little England” made at those who do not want to see their country subsumed into the European Union.

[3]  Includes R&D contracts, Architectural Design work, Accountancy, Engineering Consultancy.

[4]  Includes Computer Programming and Systems Design.

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