The EU remains the largest market for UK manufacturers despite a 19% year-on-year jump in goods exported to the US.
The UK Manufacturing Facts report released on Thursday reveals that the top six European markets account for a third of all British goods exports.
The UK manufacturing export industry currently stands at £367bn ($477) with the US being the single largest importer of UK products. But seven of the top ten UK export markets are based in Europe including Germany, France and Ireland ranked in second to fourth place respectively.
China, ranked fifth, is the only top ten destination for UK goods outside of Europe and the US.
Exports to the top six European markets – Germany, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium – are worth £117.4bn alone, according to the report by manufacturers' organisation Make UK and Santander UK.
The UK retained position as the ninth largest manufacturer and tenth for global exports.
The data, captured before the coronavirus pandemic, also reveals that among the 2.7 million people employed by UK manufacturers, the average salary stands at £34,538 – 13% higher than the average UK salary.
Transport manufacturers were the largest exporters (22%); food and drink remained the leading sub-sector for output (17%), while transport also generated the most in terms of research and development (36.4%).
Stephen Phipson, chief executive at Make UK, said the data demonstrated the “overwhelming” importance of the need to avoid imposing any Brexit trade barriers.
“Whilst the United States remains the biggest market and presents significant opportunities for export growth, it is a fallacy to believe that geography is not the biggest factor driving trade. For UK manufacturers, access to their biggest market must be a premium,” he added.
Paul Brooks, UK head of manufacturing, Santander UK, said: “Our manufacturers have shown unyielding resilience over recent months. Retaining our position as the ninth leading manufacturer makes it clear that the UK is still a major player on the international stage, but we must not rest on our laurels. This data underlines the importance of prioritising manufacturing as the UK establishes new trading relationships with partners around the world.”