Export Statistics Scotland: methodology

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

Other sources of trade data

ESS is the primary official source on Scottish exports. As trade between countries is complex, trade figures are always estimated using statistical methods. Different methods of defining trade are likely to result in different estimations of a country’s trade. As Scotland does not control its own customs borders, this adds an additional layer of complexity, as trade will often be apportioned to Scotland from UK values. 

There is no equivalent export publication to Export Statistics Scotland for the UK or it’s regions. The next sections describe some of the alternative data sources and how they compare with ESS. 

There are no statistics on the total value of imports to Scotland on a comparable basis to ESS. The Scottish Government produces Quarterly National Accounts. This includes imports on a Balance of Payments basis. It also includes a net trade balance for the onshore economy. HMRC also publish statistics on imports of goods from overseas to Scotland in their RTS

The Scottish Government has also worked with the Office for National Statistics and other producers of measures of trade to compile a user guide to regional trade data

Table 5. Sources of information on Scotland’s exports 


Published estimates 



Export Statistics Scotland (ESS) – Scottish Government 

Value of international, EU and non-EU exports, and exports to the rest of the UK, in current prices.  

Excludes oil and gas. 

International, EU and non-EU exports, and exports to the rest of the UK. 

Industry sector destination country and business size 

Usually annual.  

Latest publication, ESS 2021, was published on 29th November 2023 and includes data for 2019-2021 

GDP Quarterly National Accounts, Scotland (QNAS) - Scottish Government 

Value of international and rest of the UK exports, imports and trade balance for the onshore Scottish economy. Estimates are seasonally adjusted and on a national account basis, so are consistent with annual Supply and Use tables. 

No breakdowns available 



HMRC Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) 

Value and volume of international goods exports. Other estimates are published for imports, number of importers and exporters. Figures cover exports of goods only and exclude services. UK figures apportioned to countries in the UK, including Scotland. 

Country, commodity (2 digit SITC), trade direction 


International Trade in UK nations, regions and cities: 2021 - ONS 

Experimental estimates of the value of goods and service exports based on UK data apportioned to GB countries, including Scotland. Trade is measured on a balance of payments basis, which differs from ESS, additionally offshore exports from the oil and gas industry may affect estimates for Scotland differently to ESS. 

Exports, imports, goods and services, industry, region 


Index of manufactured exports – Scottish Government 

Chain-linked Volume Measure (CVM) of international exports of products of the manufacturing industries. This is reported within Quarterly National Accounts Scotland and is consistent with the national accounts value of exports noted above. 


Manufacturing industry 


Supply and Use tables – Scottish Government 

Value of international and rest of the UK estimates 

Annual estimates by 98 product groups (CPA 2008) 



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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