The value of construction machinery imports was £637m in the first three months of 2022 while exports were £893m – a £256m balance of trade surplus for the quarter.
Compared to the previous quarter, the value of imports was up 54% but exports fell 9%.
While imports showed a 54% increase in value terms in Q1, the increase in tonnage shipped was just 35% compared with Q4 2021. This illustrates the rising price of machinery due to increases in the price of steel and other components.
Although Q1 exports were down on the previous quarter, it was still one of the highest quarterly totals for machinery exports in recent years.
The data were gathered by the Construction Equipment Association's market analyst, Paul Lyons.
UK trade by £ value
UK trade by machine weight
Exports of equipment by country of destination
In Q1 2022, UK exports of equipment were shipped to over 140 different countries. The table below shows rankings for the Top 20 countries based on weight of machines shipped (tonnes) since 2020. However, for 2021, the country ranking has been switched to a £ value basis due to the problem with tonnage shipped data from customs highlighted above. In Q1 2022, the Top 20 countries accounted for just over 80% of total exports on both a value and tonnage shipped basis.
The USA remained the top destination for UK exports during Q1 2022, and increased its share of total exports to nearly 29%, compared with levels around 22% to 23% in the previous two years. The destination country showing the strongest growth for exports during last year was Russia, reaching 5th place in the ranking. In Q1 2022, this position showed little change, despite the imposition of sanctions during February due to the invasion of the Ukraine. This is probably due to shipments in Q1 reflecting orders placed before sanctions. A fall is expected to be seen in Q2.
Imports of equipment by country of origin
In Q1 2022, UK imports of construction and earthmoving equipment arrived from just under 50 different countries. The table below shows rankings for the Top 20 importing countries based on weight (tonnes) of machines since 2020. In Q1 this year, the Top 20 countries accounted for over 98% of total imports in both weight and value terms.
Similar to previous years, Japan has remained as the leading source for UK imports in Q1 this year on a tonnage shipped basis, while Germany was the leading source on a £ value basis. Between them, the top two countries accounted for 30% of total imports.
Imports from France showed a significant increase in Q1, accounting for 8% of total tonnage shipped, compared with 4% during 2021. This moved France up to 5th place in the country ranking, compared with 10th for last year.
However, the statistics in the table below do not necessarily reflect country of origin. A lot of construction equipment made in Japand and South Korea, for example, arrives in the UK via the European mainland, notably Netherlands and Belgium.