Skip to content

Export to the United Kingdom

Discover opportunities for exporting to the United Kingdom.

On this page

  • Key opportunities for exporting to the United Kingdom
  • Victorian Government support
  • Advice on doing business in United Kingdom

Trade with the United Kingdom

Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) have an extensive economic and trade relationship. For trade in goods and services, the UK is Australia’s seventh largest two-way trading partner, its ninth largest export market and seventh largest source of imports.

The UK is a key export destination for Australia and Victoria. In the financial year 2013-2014 the UK was Australia's twelfth largest goods export destination and one of the most important export markets for services.  Major service exports to the UK included transport, financial services, telecommunication, computer and information services.

In the financial year 2013-2014, Australian goods exports to the UK were valued at A$3.58 billion. Major exports include beef, spacecraft and parts, aircraft and alcoholic beverages.

Victoria's Exports to the United Kingdom

In the financial year 2013-2014, the UK was one of Victoria’s major markets for exports within the European Union (EU), with export of goods to the UK valued at approximately A$260 million. Victoria’s major goods exports to the UK included medicaments, alcoholic beverages, meat, fruit and nuts.

The United Kingdom's economy

The UK covers the territories of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As the world's sixth largest economy and with a GDP exceeding US$2.8 trillion, the UK is a major international trading power.

The UK is also the third largest economy in the European Union (EU) and with few trade barriers is touted as a gateway market for companies looking to expand or establish a presence in Europe.

The UK economy contracted during the global economic crisis in 2008 and again during the Eurozone crisis. Economic conditions are now buoyed by improving global conditions and a raft of government economic reforms, including cuts to the corporate tax rate and increases in capital spending on roads and infrastructure. 

Prospects of sustained economic growth mainly depend on global economic conditions, particularly in the EU, as the UK’s largest export market. 

Current and Emerging Opportunities

Australian goods and services exports to the UK have a broad base, covering a very wide range of sectors. This includes major firm activity (such as in financial services, with Australian banks having a longstanding presence in the market), through to a large number of small and medium enterprises. 

Key opportunities for Victorian export growth include:

  • ICT & Life Science (biotech, pharmaceutical, medtech)
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Beverage

ICT & Life Science (biotech, pharmaceutical, medtech)

Victoria’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and biotechnology sector is widely considered one of the most innovative in the world and enjoys an international reputation as a leading location for ICT, biotechnology and other life science industries.

The UK is a major market for medical devices, as well as a significant source for Victorian ICT, biotech, pharmaceutical and medical-technology companies looking to access the capital they need to grow.

Victoria’s ICT and life sciences industries continue to grow as a destination for companies based in the UK, with leading British communications agency, Precedent, establishing its Australian headquarters in Melbourne, as well as GlaxoSmithKline investing A$60 million to expand its manufacturing and research operations in Victoria. This comes on top of European digital agency, Reading Room’s 2013 announcement establishing a Melbourne office.

Victoria offers robust technology capabilities attractive to the UK’s ICT market. Victoria’s information and communication technology strengths include telecommunications and broadband solutions and services, niche software development, games and animation, web applications, and interactive media.
The Victorian Government offers assistance to ICT and Life Sciences companies pursuing international trade and investment, to showcase their achievements and potential to international investors, in order to access the capital they need to grow.

Financial Services

Australia currently has the fourth largest pool of superannuation funds under management worldwide, with a total of A$1.8 trillion, which is higher than Australia's current total GDP. This pool is projected to grow to A$3.5 trillion in the next 10 years and A$6-7 trillion in the next 20 years. Approximately 65 per cent of these funds are held in Melbourne, making Victoria a hub for funds management and asset investment.

Food and Beverage

Victorian food imports will continue playing a strong role meeting the current and future food needs of the UK. Underpinned by a reputation for clean, safe and green food production, Victoria is well regarded as a supplier of products such as processed dairy, meat, beverages and grains.

Victorian Government support

The Victorian Government supports targeted in-market activities through its Access Program and Trade Mission program. The Victorian Government Business Office (VGBO) in London provides in-market intelligence and support to Victorian companies, and is well-placed to assist with connections you may be interested in making.

Doing business in the United Kingdom

The business culture in the UK is more conservative than Australia, with executives preferring a more formal approach. Most business people will wear suits, although ‘smart-casual’ is becoming more widespread in some industry sectors. If in doubt, always wear a suit. In addition, please note that the description of 'lounge suit' on invitations typically means business attire, not 'smart casual'.

Many UK companies are entrepreneurial and interested in new ideas, but rarely agree to a ‘cold’ meeting. Expect to introduce your company and proposition at least three to four weeks before the planned meeting date. Make an introductory telephone call and follow-up with information by email.

As an exporter you should:

  • Refer to specialist service providers and business advisors, for assistance on a commercial basis
  • Meet with intermediaries and market advisers. They are best placed to introduce you to key industry contacts and provide specific advice on legal, tax, market overview, and HR queries
  • Attend trade shows. They provide you with the opportunity to observe your competitors, meet new customers and gather intelligence on the latest market trends.

Get in touch

For more information, contact Daniela Masci, Senior Manager, Trade Engagement – Middle East, North Africa and Europe.