About Export Statistics Scotland

Information on export statistics produced by the Scottish Government.


Export Statistics Scotland (ESS) brings together various sources of survey and administrative data. It provides estimates of the nominal value of Scotland's international and rest of UK exports. This is broken down by industry and export destination region/country.

Global Connections Survey

Scotland's Global Connections Survey (GCS) is an annual sample survey. The Scottish Government sends GCS to a representative sample of companies with operations in Scotland. GCS is used to collect export data for the previous year. The companies are selected using stratified random sampling from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR).

The GCS informs much of the estimates of international exports published in ESS. It is the primary source for estimates of exports from Scotland to the rest of the UK.

More information is available in the Global Connections Survey main page.

Estimating Scottish exports to the rest of the UK

Estimates of Scottish exports to the rest of the UK are available within the publication. Companies are not legally required to report their accounts below UK level. This means that accounting practices do not allow accurate reporting below UK level. Also, companies ship products across the UK, to complete production adding value at various stages. This means that estimated of rest of UK exports should be interpreted with caution.

Articles discussing these issues in more detail were published in previous ESS publications. This includes Scottish Economic Statistics 2005 and Scottish Economic Statistics 2007

Supplementary Data

We supplement the data collected in GCS with information from various data sources. This includes the ONS UK Monthly Business Survey (Production and Services), the ONS Monthly Business Survey Retail Sales Inquiry, the ONS Annual International Trade in Services and the ONS Annual Business Survey. We also contact some major companies directly to obtain information.


We base the population dataset on the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR). We gross the survey data up to IDBR data based on company turnover. We do this at reporting unit level, i.e. based on the sum of activity of all Scottish local units. We then classify companies to an industry based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). The SIC of the local unit with the most employees is the industry allocated to the company. Export estimates are constrained to IDBR turnover.

There are two exceptions - 'Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits' [SIC (2007) 11.01] and 'Marine fishing' [SIC (2007) 3.11]. For these SIC codes, we use alternative data sources. These data sources are HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics and Marine Scotland (see below for more detail).

Sampling methodology used for the Global Connections Survey

We extract the survey sample from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR). The sample includes all industries, except for public administration, private households with employed persons, and extra-territorial organisations. Sampling takes place at reporting unit level. We ask reporting units to provide information on the combined Scottish activity of all their local units.

We stratify the sample by area (Highlands & Islands/Scottish Enterprise area), industry (4-digit SIC), export status, and 5 employment size-bands (Scottish employment). We determine a company's export status using information provided by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, participating Local Enterprise Companies and previous survey data.

We weight known or potential exporters to increase their chance of being sampled. This is compared to non-exporters or companies whose export status is unknown. Companies with 100 or more employees are automatically sampled regardless of their export status.


Whisky [SIC (2007) 11.01]

We take information on international whisky exports from HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics. This information is the nominal value, and export destination region/country.

Fishing [SIC (2007) 3.11]

Marine Scotland provide information on international and rest of UK fishing exports. This information is the direct lands of fish abroad.

Higher Education [SIC (2007) 85.4]

We source information from Higher Education Institution annual reports. This includes estimates of turnover and international/rest of UK higher education exports.

The Higher Education Statistics Authority provide data on student numbers. This data is broken down by higher education institute and domicile. We use this data to determine the proportions of international exports to the EU and the rest of the World.

Banking [SIC (2007) 64.191]

We use information on banking sector exports to help estimate Scotland's exports. Since 2011, this is based on total sales and sales to non-UK resident customers for the four largest organisations in this sector. Before 2011, this was based on export sales information provided by The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers (CSCB). They are now known as The Committee of Scottish Bankers.  The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers also provided a split of international and rest of UK sales.

Energy [SIC (2007) 35]

We get information on rest of UK energy export proportions from the Department of Energy & Climate Change.



Estimates for previous years are revised from those published in the previous year. These revisions are largely due to companies providing new information. The most recent results are provisional. We may revise results in the future if improved information becomes available.


If you have any enquiries relating to these statistics then please contact us at:

Email: exports.statistics@gov.scot

Telephone: 0141 278 4466

Trade Statistics
5th Floor Atlantic Quay 5
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

Back to top