The United Kingdom has the fifth-largest economy in the world, is the second-largest economy in the European Union, and is a major international trading power. A highly developed, diversified, market-based economy with extensive social welfare services provides most residents with a high standard of living. Unemployment and inflation levels are amongst the lowest within the European Union.

The economy of the United Kingdom is now primarily based on private enterprise, accounting for approximately four-fifths of employment and output.

Oil platform

Oil platform - source

The United Kingdom is the European Union’s only significant energy exporter. It is also one of the world’s largest energy consumers, and most analysts predict a shift in U.K. status from net exporter to net importer of energy by 2020, possibly sooner. Oil production in the U.K. is leveling off. While North Sea natural gas production continues to rise, gains may be offset by ever-increasing consumption. North Sea oil and gas exploration activities are shifting to smaller fields and to increments of larger, developed fields, presenting opportunities for smaller, independent energy operators to become active in North Sea production.

Economic summary

GDP: 1.93 trillion USD; per capita 31,800 USD

Real growth rate: 2.8%

Inflation: 3%

Unemployment: 2.9%

Arable land: 23%

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

Labor force: 30.07 million; agriculture 1.5%, industry 19.1%, services 79.5%

Industries: 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, other consumer goods.

Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land.

Exports: 468.8 billion USD f.o.b.: manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco.

Imports: 603 billion USD f.o.b.: manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs.

Major trading partners: U.S., Germany, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, China.