British Export Trade

July 14, 1945

Report Outline
Britain's Changed Position in World Economy
British Trade Policies and Postwar Commerce
Prospects for Expansion of British Exports
Special Focus

Britain's Changed Position in World Economy

Great Britain, for more than a century one of the world's great creditor nations, is now a debtor country. Heavy foreign borrowing during World War I did not rob Britain of her creditor position. In the present war, however, she has had to liquidate many of her foreign investments and incur a large new foreign debt. Obligations to other countries now exceed the assets in Great Britain's international portfolio.

Exports in Great Britain's Balance of Payments

Liquidation of the foreign investments involves more than loss of the income which the investments produced. It will deprive postwar Britain of the wherewithal to pay for a substantial share of that country's normal surplus of imports over merchandise exports. Reduction of revenue from shipping services, as a result of heavy losses of merchant tonnage from enemy action, will put another dent in the “invisible exports” formerly relied upon to make up the deficit in the nation's trade balance. Since the needs of the British people and of British industry make it impossible to wipe out the trade deficit by permanently cutting down imports, the country will have no practical alternative but to increase its exports. And the increase must be substantial. Government spokesmen and independent economists agree that postwar exports will need to be 50 per cent greater than the prewar exports of 1938.

In 1938 exports of United Kingdom merchandise had a total value of $1,880 million. Retained merchandise imports in the same year were valued at $3,432 million. Taking into account net exports of silver bullion and specie valued at $44 million, the excess of visible imports over exports amounted to $1,508 million. The important part played by invisible items in liquidating this large unfavorable merchandise balance is indicated in the table below.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
United Kingdom
Oct. 21, 2022  The United Kingdom's Future
Nov. 05, 2010  U.S.-British Relations
Jan. 30, 1998  U.S.-British Relations
Mar. 08, 1996  The British Monarchy
Sep. 15, 1995  Northern Ireland Cease-Fire
Nov. 17, 1978  New Prospects for Britain
Apr. 08, 1977  Britain: Debtor Nation
Sep. 26, 1975  Britain in Crisis
Jun. 10, 1970  British Election, 1970
Oct. 30, 1968  British Economy Since Devaluation
Sep. 27, 1967  Britain in the 1960s: Descent from Power
Sep. 10, 1964  British Election, 1964
Jun. 24, 1964  British Commonwealth in the Postwar World
Aug. 09, 1961  Socialized Medicine in Great Britain
Jul. 19, 1961  Britain, the United States and the Common Market
Sep. 16, 1959  British General Election
Mar. 13, 1957  American-British Relations
May 10, 1954  Political Trends in Britain
Sep. 13, 1951  British Social Services
May 24, 1950  Sterling Balances
Feb. 08, 1950  British Election, 1950
Jan. 12, 1949  British National Health Service
Mar. 28, 1946  Sterling Area and the British Loan
Jul. 14, 1945  British Export Trade
Jun. 22, 1945  British Election
Jan. 01, 1943  Food Rationing in Great Britain
Apr. 19, 1941  Convoys for Britain
Jan. 02, 1941  Financing Britain's War Requirements
Aug. 26, 1938  Anglo-American Relations
Apr. 28, 1938  Economic Recovery in Great Britain
May 12, 1937  Britain's Intra-Imperial Relations
Sep. 09, 1931  Unemployment Insurance in Great Britain
Aug. 09, 1930  The Protectionist Movement in Great Britain
Sep. 10, 1929  The British Task in Palestine
May 06, 1929  The British General Election of 1929
Jun. 12, 1926  The British Trade and Financial Situation
May 07, 1926  Background of the British Labor Crisis
Oct. 17, 1924  British Electoral System and Political Issues
Feb. 29, 1924  British and French Finances
Jan. 14, 1924  The British Labour Party
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Regional Political Affairs: Europe