China has emerged as the fourth largest export market for Britain in the past year, analysis of Britain's government trade figures has revealed.
Santander Corporate and Commercial is the latest organisation to examine latest figures from Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONC).
According to Santander, China's mainland became Britain's sixth largest export market in 2014, after exports grew 12 percent compared to the previous year. That figure meant the Chinese mainland displaced Belgium and Luxembourg in the top 50 export destination for British goods.
However the ONS counts exports separately to China's Hong Kong region. In 2014 exports to this region of China stood at just under 10 billion U.S. dollars.
Added together, exports to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, totalling almost 32 billion dollars, took China to fourth place, ahead of France and Britain's close neighbor, Ireland.
The United States remains Britain's biggest export market, worth just over 58 billion dollars, capturing almost 13 percent of all exports. Germany was next with 48 billion dollars, or 10.6 percent of exports, followed by the Netherlands in third place with sales worth 36 billion dollars.
Exports to the Chinese mainland (not counting Hong Kong) stood at 22 billion dollars, with Belgium and Luxembourg generating 19.5 billion dollars of exports from Britain.
Germany was the biggest importer into Britain, with goods worth 96 billion dollars, followed by China. Imports from the Chinese mainland were worth 56 billion dollars, increasing to 68 billion dollars when the ONC's separately counted imports from Hong Kong are added.
John Carroll, head of international at Santander Corporate and Commercial, said: "International trading continues to be a key, strategic growth strategy for UK businesses as well as all stakeholders in the UK economy."
"It is important that businesses look to explore opportunities around exporting as, managed correctly, it can be hugely beneficial to their long-term growth aspirations," said Carroll.
Four new markets entered the top 50 UK exports list in 2014: Angola, with exports worth over 1.2 billion dollars; Pakistan (963 million dollars); Azerbaijan (936 million dollars); and Macedonia (809 million dollars).
Leading economists in Britain have sounded a note of caution, saying in 2015 the value of the pound sterling was making British goods more expensive, particularly in the eurozone which accounts for almost half the British manufactured goods sold overseas.
Meanwhile the London-based Financial Times reported Tuesday that Britain will miss its target of doubling exports by more than a decade, citing a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
The paper says the BCC report is the latest in a string of warnings that Chancellor George Osborne's ambitious plan to double annual exports from Britain to a trillion pounds sterling by 2020 (1.56 trillion dollars) and ensure that 100,000 additional companies export is unlikely to be succeed.
BCC has estimated that at the current rate of progress it will take Britain until 2034 to double exports.
John Longworth, director-general at the BCC, tells the FT: "The fact the chancellor's target would be missed by 14 years tells us that the radical shift needed has not happened. We cannot continue doing the same things, yet dream of different results."