The UK bicycle exports are doing well. The Institute of Export recently reported that British bike exports are at record high. hanse data affirms the good news but shows that competition is fierce in particular in the EU the largest bicycle market where the UK is trailing.
The EU-15 imported prior to the Brexit referendum in 2016 US$3.3 billion in bicycles (HS 871200 bicycles and other cycles including delivery tricycles, not motorised). The UK represented 0.9 percent of US$30.7 million of EU-15 imports in bicycles in 2016 compared with 0.6 percent in 2007. However, the increase in the UK’s the share in EU-15 bicycles imports of 0.3 percentage points compares poorly with the increase in share of Germany of 8.7 percentage points, Cambodia of 7.9 percentage points and Bulgaria of 2.6 percentage points. The UK in 2007-16 only had the 12th fastest growing share in EU-15 bicycle imports. The UK ranks only 22 in EU-15 bicycle imports in 2016 behind Philippines and Indonesia.
The US is a smaller though growing bicycle import market with total bicycle imports of US$1.5 billion in 2016. The UK ranks 8th in US imports with a share of 0.3 percent in 2016 or US$4.3 million. The dominant market leader is China with 66.4 percent of total US imports in bicycles in 2016. The UK increased its share in US bicycle imports the 5th fastest behind Hong Kong (SAR), Germany, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Bicycles imports are growing fast both in the US and EU15. The UK has shown success in US imports but has struggled to establish a meaningful share in the larger EU-15 bicycle imports. While Brexit will imply greater trade diversion of the UK, the importance of the EU bicycle market for the UK will be difficult to replicate.