By Daniel Hunter

China is now the UK's sixth largest export market after a 12% rise in 2014, according to analysis Santander Corporate & Commercial.

According to Santander's analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, British exports to China rose 12% to £13.9 billion, taking it above Belgium and Luxembourg.

Exports to Hong Kong, counted separately by the ONS, increased 11% to £6.3bn — meaning that exports to China and Hong Kong were worth a combined £20.1bn in 2014, more than France (£18.9bn) or the Republic of Ireland (£18.6bn).

The US, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Ireland remain top five most significant markets, with UK goods totalling £129 billion exported in 2014, of which £36.9 billion, nearly 13% of all exports, went to the US.

But even though exports to Germany were up 4% year-on-year to £31 billion, overall exports to the top five were down 5.7% from £137 billion in 2013.

John Carroll, ‎Head of International at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “International trading continues to be a key, strategic growth strategy for UK businesses as well as all stakeholders in the UK economy. It is important that businesses look to explore opportunities around exporting as, managed correctly, it can be hugely beneficial to their long-term growth aspirations.”

Exports to key, fast-developing markets remained significant: £6.1bn to the United Arab Emirates; £5.6bn to South Korea; £4.6bn to India; and £3.8bn to Poland.

Additionally, four new markets entered the top 50 UK exports list in 2014: Angola, with exports worth £808 million; Pakistan (£619m); Azerbaijan (£602m); and Macedonia (£518m).