In the 19th century Britain dominated, accounting for about one-third of the world’s exports. Early in the 20th century its position changed. The volume of world’s exports increased but the percentage of British exports in world trade declined significantly.
But still foreign trade is vital to Britain’s livelihood. With a large population, small land area, and few natural resources, the country must depend on foreign trade to supply the raw materials for English factories and to provide a market for the sale of the thousands of types of manufactured goods produced by English industries.
The United Kingdom’s principal exports are vehicles, machinery, manufactured goods and textiles. Its main imports are foodstuffs and most of the raw materials for industry.
There is usually an unfavourable balance of trade, that is, imports exceed exports, but this is compensated for in part by the so-called invisible trade.
The earnings from invisible trade come in the way of shipping charges, interest payments from foreign investments, interest payments from British enterprises abroad, and tourist expenditure. The earnings from foreign tourist trade make this one of British important industries.
Britain has got very sound economic ties with various countries of the world, especially the Commonwealth countries. The Commonwealth, officially called The Commonwealth of Nations, has grown out of the old British Empire which came to an end with the Second World War. The Commonwealth countries are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries and territories. The UK enjoys special rights to import various agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables from the Commonwealth at very good prices all year round.
The United Kingdom has been a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) since 1959, and a member of the European Economic Community (EEC) since 1973.
Answer the questions.
1. What goods does the United Kingdom export and import?
2. What services does the country export?
3. Does the country earn a lot of money thanks to a big number of tourists coming to Britain?
4. What is the Commonwealth?
5. When did Britain join the European Economic Community?
Insert the correct prepositions.
1. In the 19th century Britain accounted …… about one-third …… the world’s exports.
2. Foreign trade is vital …… Britain.
3. The country depends …… foreign trade.
4. There is usually an unfavourable balance …… trade in the country.
5. But this is compensated …… by the so-called invisible trade.
6. The earnings …… invisible trade come in various payments.
7. The earnings …… foreign tourism make it a very important industry.
8. The Commonwealth has grown ……the old British Empire.
9. The old British Empire which came …… an end …… the Second World War.
10. The United Kingdom has been a member of the EFTA ……1959.
11. It has been a member of the EEC …… 1973.
What words in the text prove that:
1. Britain was one of the main exporters in the world in the 19th century.
2. At the beginning of the 20th century Britain lost its dominating position.
3. There are a few objective factors why foreign trade is very important for Britain.
4. Britain needs raw materials for its industries.
5. Britain is interested in exporting its manufactured goods.