Trade and exports
Trade and exports

Trade and exports

Heathrow is not only the UK’s global gateway; it is the country’s biggest port, handling over a quarter of export goods by value. As Britain looks to a economic future beyond Europe, Heathrow is more important than ever to act as the bridge to the world for business.

Export items

From British-made pharmaceuticals sent to third world countries, high-tech components for Formula 1 cars to high quality fresh salmon to China – Heathrow is perhaps the UK’s most important port for the future.

Today, over 29% of the UK’s exports and imports (goods, combined) comes through Heathrow each year. In 2014, the value of these goods was £130bn.

Heathrow has announced a £180 million plan to overhaul its cargo facilities by 2025, but without extra runway capacity the benefits to the UK economy will not be fully realised in this area.

A global race for trade

The UK is in the middle of a global race for long-haul connections to emerging economies in Asia and South America. Britain’s competitive position to these connections is under threat from other expanding European hubs.

Without expansion at Heathrow, Britain is handing export growth to European competitors – France, Germany and the Netherlands – with exports traded less efficiently across the globe.

UKTI - Export Graphic


Heathrow both connects British exporters to global markets and makes it easier for investors to come to the UK.

To retain the UK’s position as a hub for international trade, Heathrow’s plans include overhauling cargo facilities to double their capacity.

Faster more efficient cargo movements at a hub will improve the export competitiveness and maximise economic benefits.

The prize to be won

This prize to be won for the UK with expansion will be largely fuelled by the huge economic benefits new frequent connections with emerging economies in China and South America will bring. As Britain looks to forging new trade agreements,

Dubai, Istanbul and others are investing huge sums to capture the hub connectivity Britain has enjoyed for so long.

As an island trading nation, connectivity has been central to the UK’s global trading position over the past three hundred years, and is now more essential than ever. As Britain looks to project itself as an outward looking nation, strong and reliable connections are vital in allowing this to be delivered.

Find out more about the numbers behind cargo at Heathrow with out Facts and figures page!

Source: Taking Britain Further, Volume 1 (Heathrow, 2014), Seabury Trade Database (2015), Heathrow analysis, available here.

Share this page