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Switzerland and South Korea are among the UK's fastest growing export partners

  • Switzerland, China and South Korea are among the U.K.'s fastest growing export partners, according to researchers.
  • The U.K.'s fastest growing markets are, in descending order, Switzerland, China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and South Korea
  • U.K. exports to these five countries are worth $71 billion last year, the Wyelands Bank and Global Trade Review study stated.
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Switzerland, China and South Korea are among the U.K.'s fastest growing export partners, according to researchers.

The U.K.'s fastest growing markets are, in descending order, Switzerland, China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and South Korea, with U.K. exports to these five countries worth $71 billion last year, a study by Wyelands Bank and Global Trade Review, published Monday, stated.

The report predicted that the export growth rate to Switzerland and China was 3.6 percent a year through to 2021 and could reach 2.9 percent to Saudi Arabia in the same period.

Export growth to Hong Kong and South Korea, meanwhile, could reach around 1.2 percent per year to 2021, the research showed.

"The projected growth means that these markets could generate an extra $2.1 billion a year for U.K. exports," the report commissioned by Wyelands Bank, which was set up to help the U.K.'s small and medium-sized businesses grow, said.

At a time when the U.K. is negotiating its future trade relationship with the European Union (EU) as it prepares to leave the 28-country economic and political bloc, focus is being placed on whether the U.K. could stay in some sort of customs union.

Downing Street has ruled out such membership, preferring to be able to negotiate free trade deals with the rest of the world, but the majority of members in the upper house of the U.K.'s parliament, the House of Lords, have voted against that, forcing a debate on the issue.

While the countries listed above might be the fastest-growing export markets, they are still far behind the country's traditional destinations for exports, with Europe remaining the U.K.'s biggest trading partner for exports with a 46.3 percent share. North America is next with 17.2 percent, followed by Asia Pacific (7 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (5.4 percent), Middle East and North Africa (1.8 percent) and South America (1.2 percent), the report said.

Wyelands predicted that exports to the Asia Pacific region are expected to grow at 3 percent a year to 2021 and 0.5 percent annually to South America, until 2021.

The report stated that the U.K. economy is highly dependent on trade as it accounts for 58 percent of U.K. gross domestic product (GDP). "This makes the U.K. economy one of the most open in the Group of 20 (major economies), and more open than China, America and Japan," the report noted.

In 2016, the U.K. exported goods worth $433.5 billion and imported goods worth $678.1 billion.