With exports to China hitting 13.9bn, Belgium and Luxembourg have been knocked down a level to a position where the duo now account for four per cent of total UK exports.
Figures from Santander show that, when combined with separately counted Hong Kong, the combined export amount from China reaches 20.1bn more than both France and the Republic of Ireland.
Inside the top six, only Germany (at four per cent) and China (at 12 per cent) registered export growth in terms of value year-on-year. This will come as a concern to the UK government, which has set a target of doubling exports to 1tn by 2020.
The US continues to be the most popular destination for British exporters, accounting for 40.9bn, but was one of the biggest fallers during 2014 at ten per cent. Exports to France lost 11 per cent of their value, with Netherlands dropping eight per cent and the Republic of Ireland two per cent.
Read more on exporting:
- Cameron sets off for Asia to seal business deal worth 750m and push for free trade agreement
- SMEs are tackling the trade deficit but need to move out of export “comfort zone”
- The key fundamentals to address for any business considering exporting
John Carroll, head of international at Santander Corporate & Commercial, believes it is increasingly important for UK businesses to look at exploring opportunities around exporting because it can be hugely beneficial to long-term growth aspirations.
Santander believes that exports to key fast-developing markets such as the United Arab Emirates (which posted a figure of 6.1bn), South Korea ( £5.6bn), India ( £4.6bn) and Poland ( £3.8bn) are significant .
The new entries to the top 50 UK exports list during 2014 were Angola ( £808m), Pakistan ( £619m), Azerbaijan ( £602m) and Macedonia ( £518m).
Separate research conducted by FedEx Express has shown that SMEs are making a positive contribution to the UK trade deficit, with the average firm in the space having a Europe net surplus of 18,000 and outside of Europe net surplus of 304,000. The proportion of British SMEs reporting at least 20 shipments per month to Europe has risen from 40 per cent to 69 per cent.