SWOT analysis of the UK
This detailed SWOT analysis of the UK explores some of the key strengths and the weaknesses of the UK. It also examines the opportunities the country should explore and the threats it should keep an eye on. The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the most powerful countries in the world. It consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Strengths of the UK
The UK is a superpower. It is a founding and one of the five permanent members of the United Nations. It is a key ally of the USA and has good connections with the Commonwealth of Nations. It plays a major role in the world affairs. It is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy and is world-renowned for its political stability.
One of the largest economies in the world. The UK’s GDP in 2019 was 2.827 trillion US dollars (Trading Economics, 2020). It receives a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI) every year. It has a mixed economy where the government intervenes time to time to prevent any economic crisis. The government’s financial supports to struggling businesses due to recent economic lockdown have been praise-worthy, though more has been expected of it.
The UK houses some of the greatest and largest companies in the world. Shell, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), BP, Vodafone, Dyson, BAE Systems, ASOS, Lloyd’s, Aviva, AstraZeneca, Unilever, and Tesco are some of the companies that are leading the way in global stage in everything from tech and pharmaceuticals to food and fashion.
The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare systems of the UK. It is a great source of national pride that was established to provide services that are comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. It makes the UK different from many other advanced nations on earth.
The UK is a stunning place with a number of world heritage sites, national parks, iconic landmarks, quaint villages, vibrant coastlines, scenic countryside, castles and palaces, events and festivals, filming locations, and many more. No wonder why the country is one of the best in the world of tourism!
One of the best countries in the world for higher education. Many of the history’s top scientists, historians, inventors, laureates and intellectuals are from the UK. The UK is also famous for its advanced infrastructure, transport system, (notably the London Underground) and information technology.
A leading financial hub in the world. The UK’s rigid yet flexible regulations, expertise, and infrastructure often attract the attention of international companies. Other notable industries are construction, tourism, food and drink, agriculture, manufacturing, and steel.
Weaknesses of the UK
Though the UK is one of the top destinations for foreign direct investment (FD), its recent performance has been concerning. It received $101 billion worth of FDI in 2017; however, the FDI inflows went down to $65 billion in 2018 and $59 billion in 2019 (Banco Santander, 2020).
The UK is one of the most expensive countries to live. For example, the monthly rent for a one bedroom flat even in poorer areas of the capital London may cost around £1000. The housing market is extremely expensive, and it is very difficult for a first-time buyer to buy a property. Not only rent and mortgage, but also many other things are very costly in the country, particularly in London.
No doubt that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world. However, this richness is not equally distributed across the country. North and south divide has been an issue of contention with more jobs being created in southern cities than elsewhere (BBC, 2020). Regional wealth gaps have grown and generally, the is a big gap between the rich and the poor in the country. According to Inman (2019) top 10% of households had 45% of the UK’s national wealth in 2018.
The UK is falling behind some of its competitors in creating disruptive innovation. Lack of investment is raising concerns over the health and growth of the industry. In fact, the UK is falling being many advanced nations when it comes to spending on research and development as a proportion of GDP (Chowdhury, 2019).
Opportunities for the UK
Certainly, Brexit has created uncertainties; however, it has also opened doors to new possibilities. Building bilateral and free-trade relations with some nations will create opportunities for British companies to expand. If the country can somehow maintain access to the EU single market, and build new free trade agreements with other countries, it will be great!
The UK has a powerful pull-factor. Its draws talents from all over the world. By attracting highly skilled talents, it can increase its productivity, meet domestic demands, and compete more vigorously in the international arenas.
The UK is positioned as the largest net exporter of financial and professional services in the world. Likewise, it is also well-known for exporting cars, crude petroleum, gold, gas tribunes, and packaged medicaments. According to the Institute of Export & International Trade (2020), the UK’s exports are at an all time high which provides some optimism for the future.
Threats to the UK
There are many competitors that challenge the UK in many different fields. For instance, France, Germany, Italy, the USA, Canada, Russia, India, China, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea put significant competitive pressures on the UK.
Running businesses in the UK is very expensive. The costs are so high sometimes that many small businesses find them unbearable. Unless things change, many of these businesses may go bust making many people unemployed. Likewise, there is a huge threat of a financial crisis that can disrupt the economy.
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Last update: 12 July 2020
BBC (2020) How the UK economy is changing in the 21st century, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zqhvmnb/revision/2 (accessed 08 July 2020)
Banco Santander (2020) United Kingdom: Foreign Investment, available at: https://santandertrade.com/en/portal/establish-overseas/united-kingdom/foreign-investment (accessed 10 July 2020)
Chowdhury, H. (2019) UK faces innovation dry up as it falls behind in tech R&D spend, available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/05/13/uk-faces-innovation-dry-falls-behind-tech-rd-spend/ (accessed 10 July 2020)
The Institute of Export & International Trade (2020), UK exports at all-time high on back of non-EU growth, available at: https://www.export.org.uk/news/489308/UK-exports-at-all-time-high-on-back-of-non-EU-growth.htm (accessed 11 July 2020)
Trading Economics (2020) United Kingdom GDP, available at: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp (accessed 07 July 2020)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.