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Eurostat release UK trade figures by enterprise characteristics – October 201125 Oct 2011

This week Eurostat have released the latest External Trade Statistics by Enterprise Characteristics (ETSEC). The data can be found at These figures relate to trade in the years 2008 and 2009. For the first time, these figures contain UK trade data.

Conventionally, trade statistics show which goods are moving between countries but they do not describe what type of businesses are behind these trade flows.
The main objective of ETSEC is to link international trade statistics with information held on government business registers to provide information on the characteristics of trade operators. This makes it possible to answer questions such as:

  • what types of business are behind the trade flows of goods?
  • how much trade was contributed by a particular activity sector?
  • what is the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises to total trade?
  • what types of business trade with particular partner countries and how much trade do they account for?

It is now a legal requirement for all EU Member States to produce ETSEC data for Eurostat annually and the UK will be contributing data on an annual basis to meet this requirement. ETSEC data for the years 2005-2007 is also available for a limited number of EU Member States (excluding the UK). You can obtain UK ETSEC data from the Eurostat website by clicking on the ‘External Trade Statistics by Enterprise Characteristics’ section, then the ‘NACE Rev. 2.’ link.

For the UK, the ETSEC statistics are based on trade statistics data collected by HMRC, which is linked with information on the Inter Departmental Business Register (IDBR) held by the Office for National Statistics. The data added from the IDBR is the activity code of the trader according to NACE Rev. 2 classification (equivalent to the UK SIC 2007 classification system from the IDBR) and the number of employees:

Datasets available on Eurostat’s website
The ETSEC statistics consist of five datasets:
Dataset 1: Trade by activity sector and enterprise size class;
Dataset 2: Concentration of trade by activity;
Dataset 3: Trade by partner country and activity;
Dataset 4: Trade by number of partner countries and activity;
Dataset 5: Trade by commodity and activity.
Note that all value figures are in Euros (€1000s).

NACE is derived from the French title "Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes" (Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Communities). NACE Rev.2 was adopted in 2006. The UK’s SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) 2007 system is identical to NACE Rev.2 down to the four digit class level.