Export Statistics Scotland: methodology

Information about the methodology used to produce the estimates of Scotland's exports in the Export Statistics Scotland publication.

ESS processing: official data sources

Table 1. Information on the official data sources used in the production of export estimates in Export Statistics Scotland (ESS) and the variables they inform. 


Sources & producer  


Turnover, international and rest of the UK exports 


Global Connections Survey (GCS)  - Scottish Government (SG) 

See GCS sample section for more information on businesses included in the survey sample. It provides turnover and export values for businesses that respond.  



Scottish Annual Business Statistics  (SABS) - Scottish Government/ONS 

Provides turnover for businesses where a match is found to the population derived from IDBR.  

ABS does not cover all sectors of the economy. The main sectors not covered are the financial sector & parts of agriculture and the public sector. See Scottish Annual Business Statistics - Methodology Notes


Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) - ONS 

The IDBR is used as the sampling frame for the Export Statistics Scotland publication. This source is compiled by ONS.  

The IDBR is also the source of turnover estimates for some businesses where no alternative is available.  

Service sector international exports 

International Trade in Services Survey (ITIS)  - ONS 

For service sector organisations where no GCS responses were received (but the business responded to the ONS International Trade in Services survey) then international exports are estimated from this source. For businesses located across the UK, the export estimate is based on employment proportions from IDBR. See International trade in services QMI. 


Manufacturing sector turnover & international exports 

Monthly Business Survey - ONS 

The Monthly business survey is used to gather export proportions and turnover for manufacturing sector organisations where GCS or SABS data are not available. See Monthly Business Survey QMI for more information. 

International export values for SIC 11.01 Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits 


HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) - HMRC 

Estimates of international whisky exports are sourced from HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) based on the export values for all Scotch Whisky Commodities reported to HMRC. We also include estimates for exports of gin and vodka, using this OTS data, to improve estimates for this sector. This is based on a proportion of the UK total, which is sourced from the OTS data. 

See HMRC UK Trade info - Help with using our data for methodology notes. 

International export values for SIC 11.05 Manufacture of beer 


HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) - HMRC 

Estimates of international beer exports are sourced from HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) based on the export values for all beer commodities reported to HMRC. We have then applied a proportion of the UK total to estimate Scotland’s exports from this sector.  


International and rest of the UK export values for SIC 03.11 Marine fishing 

Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics - SG 

Estimates of international and rest of the UK marine fishing exports are sourced from the SG Marine Scotland publication Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics. Exports are estimated using the value of landings by Scottish vessels. 

This is not business level data but has annual totals for international and RUK exports to each destination country. See Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2021 for further information. 


Turnover and international/rest of the UK export values &  EU/non-EU export proportions for SIC 85.4 Higher education 

Higher Education Institution annual reports - Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data 

Estimates of turnover and income from UK higher education exports are sourced from data from Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). 

Education international and RUK exports to different world regions are calculated using turnover and proportion of students from different world areas. See Table 1 - Comprehensive income and expenditure | HESA, Table 28 - Non-UK domiciled HE students 2014/15 to 2021/22 | HESA and Table 1 - HE student enrolments 2014/15 to 2021/22 | HESA 

Turnover and international / rest of the UK export values for SIC 64.191 Banking 

SG Banking Survey 

This data source is used to estimate turnover and international/rest of UK export proportions for the four largest organisations in this sector, and scale IDBR turnover for all other banks. 


Rest of the UK export proportions for SIC 35 Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 

Total amount of electricity generated in Scotland and the amount transferred to England, Wales and NI is used to calculate the export proportion for the rest of the UK  


If you have any enquiries relating to these statistics then please contact the Trade Statistics team at:

Email: exports.statistics@gov.scot

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

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