Export Statistics Scotland: methodology

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

Global Connections Survey: population

The population for GCS contains all commercial businesses currently trading in Scotland that are part of an industry sector likely to export goods or services (see more details on industry classifications are given below). The Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), a database of all businesses in the UK, is used to create the population. 

We are interested in businesses that have local units with activity in Scotland. A local unit (as defined in the IDBR) is one unit of a business, such as a branch, factory, or a shop. We add these Scottish local units together to form a reporting unit. Specifically, we do this by summing the employees and turnover from each Scottish local unit. The reason we use local units is because one business may have local units in different parts of the UK, and we are only interested in capturing economic activity in Scotland. The reporting unit is how we think of one business in the GCS and it is the reporting unit that will be invited to complete a survey return. 

To understand about export activity in different sectors, we allocate a Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code to each business based on the main activity of that business. The SIC code is a way of classifying different types of economic activity into sectors. We allocate a SIC code to each reporting unit, based on the activity carried out by the largest number of employees across all of the Scottish local units. In ESS, SIC 10-33 are classed as 'Manufacturing', SIC 45-99 are classed as 'Services' industries and SIC 1-3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 35-39, and 41-43 are classed as ‘Other’.  

Once we have the list of reporting units, we want to include only commercial businesses that are likely to export. We remove reporting units that are identified as being charities, government organisations and non-profit bodies. We also remove businesses allocated to certain SIC codes, such as those in the health and social work sector that are unlikely to export goods and services. We exclude businesses classed as exporters of oil and gas (see full excluded industries list and ESS processing section for information on other data sources we use for certain types of industries). Once these reporting units have been excluded, the remaining list of businesses is the population for GCS.  


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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