About 1 in 7 German cars are sold in the UK

9 December 2016
What was claimed

Most German cars are sold in Britain.

Our verdict

That’s wrong. About one in seven cars made in Germany are sold in Britain. It is true that more German cars are exported to the UK than anywhere else.

What was claimed

The UK has a trade deficit with the EU.

Our verdict

That’s true overall. We have a trade surplus in services, and a much larger trade deficit in goods.

“I actually believe that we hold all the cards… there is a deficit, a trade deficit from the EU to us. Germany, the breadbasket of the EU, sells most of its cars in Britain. They desperately need to trade with us.”

Louise Mensch, 8 December 2016

It’s not true that Germany sells most of its cars in Britain, although it does export more cars to the UK than anywhere else.

Germany sells about 14% of all the passenger cars it makes domestically to the UK, a little over one in seven. (That makes up about 18% of the passenger cars it exports, a little under one in five).

But it is true that the rest of the EU sells more to us than we sell to them overall.

Last year, the Office for National Statistics says that we bought about £90 billion more in goods than we sold to other EU countries. At the same time, we ran a £20 billion trade surplus in services, selling more than we bought. So our overall trade deficit in good and services was about £70 billion overall.

On its own, the overall balance of trade doesn’t tell us very much about the balance of power in Brexit negotiations. For example, it doesn’t tell us about which industries our negotiators think are strategically important, or domestic priorities, or why.

There are lots of different ways to look at how much UK-EU trade is worth to each party, and what that means for who is most keen to agree on a trade deal. We’ve written about this in detail here.

The European Commission gives different figures for the UK’s trade with the EU, because it collects the data in a different way. It still says that the UK has a trade deficit in goods, a trade surplus in services and a trade deficit overall.

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