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United States

Grain elevator discharging the SS Cornish City at the Royal Victoria Dock.
View full size imageGrain elevator discharging the SS Cornish City at the Royal Victoria Dock. © NMM
The USA became Britain's most important trading partner during the 19th century.

At first, the United States exported mainly raw materials and agricultural products. With the opening up of the Prairies and the development of refrigeration ships, vast quantities of frozen meat - mainly beef and bacon - were exported to Britain, as were considerable amounts of wheat and crops such as tobacco and raw cotton. Mineral exports included gold and nickel.
 
As the United States took over Britain's position as the world's leading industrial economy, exports of manufacturers to Britain became increasingly important.