Global Scotland: trade and investment strategy 2016-2021

Our eight-point action plan to increase trade and investment in Scotland.

Annex B: Improving Trade Data

The Scottish Government Trade and Investment Evidence Paper published in 2015 provided a wide range of trade and investment data, drawn from a variety of sources.

Such analysis is vital to improving understanding of Scotland’s trade performance as a whole and by particular markets and sectors and to shaping the public and private sector’s individual and collective efforts to achieve our ambition.

At present, there are a range of official data sources which can be used to monitor Scotland export performance. These include the Scottish Government’s annual Export Statistics Scotland and Index of Manufactured Exports, HMRC Quarterly Regional Trade Statistics data on goods exports, the Small Business Survey and ONS Annual Business Survey. These sources provide rich information on Scottish exports. The Scottish Government and UK statistics producers are making improvements to them so that export performance can be better understood and monitored with greater confidence.

Following feedback from stakeholders, the Scottish Government has already taken steps to improve the January 2016 publication of Export Statistics Scotland which provides data on Scotland’s export performance in 2014. This replaces the Global Connections Survey with the new name reflecting the range of other data sources which complement the Scottish Government survey to give a more accurate picture of Scotland’s export performance.

The Export Statistics Scotland 2014 publication includes improved methodological information; provides deflated export trend data ;and includes a much wider range of survey data than previously, including respondents views on barriers to trade; support and assistance and future markets. This is a first step in improving data on export performance and making such data more publicly accessible. Further steps will include:

  • Considering ways to reduce the time lag between data collection and publication;
  • Improving engagement with business and accessibility of survey through communications and developing online completion;
  • Working with UK officials to determine the possibility of incorporating other UK wide official statistics sources including: HMRC company level returns and oil and gas export statistics in the overall export estimate;
  • Considering ways to make export statistics available in an interactive manner to allow users to effectively drill down into the data
  • Consulting with businesses on how export statistics can be developed to help them identify new export opportunities.

As well as official sources there are a range of other data and analysis published by banks and business and industry bodies which provide further insights into Scotland’s export performance. There is also scope to use the operational data of our enterprise agencies and other partners, possibly including export certification data held by Chambers of Commerce, to provide a rounded picture of Scotland’s export performance. In that context, the Scottish Government will work with the UK Office for National Statistics, HMRC, business and industry bodies and others to bring together and provide access to other official government sources of trade data and unofficial sources of data and evidence and to develop a more rounded and granular picture of Scotland’s export performance.


Email: Jamie McGarvey,

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