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Scottish manufactured exports estimates for the fourth quarter of 2008

DescriptionQuarterly exports of manufactured goods from Scotland, 2008 Q4.
Official Print Publication DateApril 2009
Website Publication DateApril 01, 2009



1 April 2009

This document is also available in PDF format (158k) and the tables may be downloaded in excel format (85 kb).


Scottish manufactured export sales fell by 9.6 per cent in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2008 and fell by 2.8 per cent over the year to the end of December 2008, according to estimates published today by Scotland's Chief Statistician.


The main findings are:

  • Scottish manufactured export sales decreased by 9.6 per cent in real terms in 2008 Q4 (seasonally adjusted). The level of Scottish manufactured export sales decreased by 2.8 per cent in real terms over the year to 2008 Q4.

  • Over the quarter, declines in exports were observed in all industries. The greatest declines were in food, drink & tobacco (-20.2%), metals & metal products (-10.5%), and engineering & allied industries (-5.6%), with chemicals, coke, refined petroleum & nuclear fuel (-7.0%), textiles, fur & leather (-3.8%), wood, paper, publishing & printing (-2.6%), and other manufacturing (-2.7%) also showing declines.

  • Over the year to December 2008, export sales fell in engineering & allied industries (-2.9%), food, drink & tobacco (-3.5%), chemicals, coke, refined petroleum & nuclear fuel (-3.6%), textiles, fur & leather (-8.1%), metals & metal products (-1.5%), and wood, paper, publishing & printing (-0.6%). However, export sales in the other manufacturing industries grew by 5.2 per cent in real terms over the year.

Longer Term Trends

  • Over 1995 Q1 to 2000 Q4, the index of manufactured exports exhibited a period of strong growth (1.9% average quarterly growth) which was followed by a sustained period of decline from 2000 Q4 to 2004 Q4 (2.7% average quarterly decline). Thereafter there was some evidence of modest trend growth in export sales until the middle of 2008. Over the last two quarters the volume of export sales have declined, reaching their lowest level since 1995.
  • The growth and decline in manufactured exports over the period 1995-2004 is largely explained by the electrical and instrument engineering sector which grew by 95.7 per cent between 1995 and 2000 and fell by 66.0 per cent between 2000 Q4 and 2004 Q4.


At its peak, in 2000, the electrical and instrument engineering sector accounted for 58 per cent of Scotland's manufactured exports. This industry remains Scotland's largest exporting sector and accounted for nearly 33 per cent of Scotland's total manufactured exports in 2008.



1. Estimates of Scottish manufactured exports are compiled on the standard industrial classification UKSIC(2003). Implemented on 1 January 2003, UKSIC(2003) is a minor revision to UKSIC(92), in line with the latest revision of the European Union classification system.

2. The estimates are derived from data on sales of goods produced by the Scottish manufacturing industry for export outwith the UK. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) collect the data used to produce these figures in their Monthly Production Inquiry. Export estimates for the refined petroleum products industry are calculated using a volume series supplied by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and export ratios estimated using the Scottish Government's Global Connections Survey.

3. The main purpose of the Index is to identify volume changes over time. Accordingly, data are deflated to 2000 prices using UK export producer price indices, which are produced by the ONS. These constant (2000) price estimates provide a more appropriate measure for monitoring change over time as they have had the effect of price changes removed.

4. Deflated exports sales of the companies covered by the Inquiry are grossed up to represent the entire population of each industry using the Inter Departmental Business Register.

5. Cross-referencing of company information from the Global Connections Survey (GCS) is carried out annually to enhance the level of consistency between individual company records held in both sources. GCS annual data are currently only available for calendar years 2002 - 2007, so rescaling of pre-2002 data takes place to ensure continuity.

6. The data have been seasonally adjusted where appropriate using the X-12-ARIMA technique. Further information is available in an article published in the 2006 edition of Scottish Economic Statistics. ( http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/ses/).

7. In total, the Index is based on a sample of around 1,000 Scottish manufacturing companies per quarter. This sample covers all sizes of unit across the manufacturing sector.

The Global Connections Survey

8. The annual Global Connections Survey (GCS) provides a current price estimate, in monetary terms, of the value of exports sales for the economy as a whole; the only survey to do so. The Quarterly Index of Manufactured Exports provides a time series of growth in export sales, at constant prices, for the manufacturing industry. The annual estimate of total exports from Scotland derived from the Global Connections Survey indicates that the manufacturing sector accounted for £13.6 billion in 2007 - 66 per cent of all exports from Scotland.

9. Further information about the methodology of the Index of Manufactured Exports and the Global Connections Survey can be found on the website at www.scotland.gov.uk/exports


10. Some of the indices for smaller industries can be particularly volatile when examined on a quarterly basis. In some cases, this is due to the nature of the industry (e.g. transport equipment), in others it can be due to the relatively small size of the industry in export terms (e.g. food & tobacco). For these reasons, care should be taken when drawing any firm conclusions from individual quarter results. Estimates of annual changes will be more robust than quarterly changes.


11. It is the Scottish Government's policy to use all the data available at the time of publication to ensure that the best possible estimates are provided. This inevitably leads to revisions to previously published estimates. All quarters affected by data revisions are updated at the earliest possible opportunity. This allows those using the data for long-term analysis to have a long-term consistent series. We have a commitment to improve continually the quality of the index of manufactured exports, and part of this commitment involves an ongoing programme to develop the data sources and methodologies used in the compilation of the series.


12. The chart above shows a comparison of the overall Index this quarter and the index published in January 2009. Tables 3 and 4 provide detailed information of revisions at industry level. Quarterly revisions which balance out to zero over the year usually indicate that there has been a change to the seasonal pattern of the series rather than a revision to the data for any companies.

13. Revisions this quarter have resulted from revisions to information previously supplied by respondent companies and re-estimation of seasonal adjustment factors. The series most affected are: mechanical engineering and metals & metal products, as well as a historic change to other manufacturing, caused by a re-assessment of industry classification.

Future Revisions

14. There are no planned changes to the methodologies used in the production of the Index of Manufactured Exports next quarter.

National Statistics

15. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

Mercury and Profile users may obtain a copy of the Index tables by telephoning the number below or via the website www.scotland.gov.uk/exports

Issued by:

Office of the Chief Economic Adviser

Scottish Government

St Andrew's House

Regent Road

Edinburgh EH1 3DG


Communications Office: Stewart Cooper (0131-244-5122)

Assistant Statistician: Glen Deakin (0131-244-2838)