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United Kingdom Economy

    Economy—overview: The UK is one of the world's great trading powers and financial centers, and its essentially capitalistic economy ranks among the four largest in Western Europe. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance, now employing only 18% of the work force. Economic growth is slowing, and Britain may experience a short recession in 1999. As a result, unemployment probably will begin to rise again. The BLAIR government has put off the question of participation in the euro system until after the next election, not expected until 2001, but Chancellor of the Exchequer BROWN is committed to preparing the British economy for eventual membership.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.252 trillion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 2.6% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$21,200 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 1.5%
    industry: 31.5%
    services: 67% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: 17%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 2.4%
    highest 10%: 24.7% (1986)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.7% (1998)

    Labor force: 28.8 million (1998)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 68.9%, manufacturing and construction 17.5%, government 11.3%, energy 1.2%, agriculture 1.1% (1996)

    Unemployment rate: 7.5% (1998 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $487.7 billion
    expenditures: $492.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $23.1 billion (1997 est.)

    Industries: production machinery including machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods

    Industrial production growth rate: 0.5% (1998 est.)

    Electricity—production: 309.672 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 72.28%
    hydro: 1.28%
    nuclear: 26.33%
    other: 0.11% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 326.322 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 16.65 billion kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish

    Exports: $271 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco

    Exports—partners: EU countries 56% (Germany 12%, France 10%, Netherlands 8%), US 12% (1997)

    Imports: $304 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, foodstuffs

    Imports—partners: EU countries 53% (Germany 14%, France 10%, Netherlands 7%, Ireland 5%), US 13% (1997)

    Debt—external: $NA

    Economic aid—donor: ODA, $3.4 billion (1996)

    Currency: 1 British pound () = 100 pence

    Exchange rates: British pounds () per US$1—0.6057 (January 1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6106 (1997), 0.6403 (1996), 0.6335 (1995), 0.6529 (1994)

    Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)