About Regional Trade Statistics


What is Regional Trade Statistics?

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) introduced the Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) series in January 1999 to support the economic decision-making of the devolved Scottish Government, Assemblies and other regional bodies within the UK. These statistics provide a useful breakdown of the flows of imports and exports between regions of the UK and other countries. RTS was designed to provide a meaningful breakdown of the UK’s Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS).
RTS data is categorised by partner country and Standard International Trade Classification, Rev.4. (SITC) at division level (2-digit). The SITC is a relatively broad classification of goods and is not as detailed as the commodity classification available in the OTS.
RTS data is not available for all partner countries. In the current methodology, data is available for a country if the country’s total trade (Imports and Exports combined) exceeded one per cent of the total trade of that country’s World Region (based on a historical baseline). However, this suppression policy does not apply to EU countries where data for all member states is available.
Data is taken primarily from Customs systems (for non-EU trade) and the Intrastat survey (for EU trade). HMRC does not receive information in respect of goods that move wholly within the UK, nor in intangibles and services such as banking or tourism. Trade is mainly allocated to a region by the postcode associated with a company’s VAT registration.

Unallocated Trade

Not all trade can be assigned to one of the 9 English Regions, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Where appropriate, this is referred to in the tables as the ‘Unallocated Trade’. Un-allocated section is split in ‘Un-allocated – Known’ and ‘Un-allocated – Unknown’. The former is where we have virtually full details of the trade but it is not appropriate to allocate it to a region.
Unallocated-Known includes:
  • Trade going into or out of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man or being traded by businesses located in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • Trade carried out by the UK Government
  • Trade carried out by overseas based businesses who have a VAT presence in the UK
  • Parcel post trade that is dealt with centrally (Trade with non-EU countries only)
Unallocated-Unknown includes:
  • Trade where business details submitted are invalid
  • Un-registered businesses (Non-EU only)
  • Private Individuals (non-EU only); and
  • Low Value Trade (non-EU only).

Business Counts

The counts for businesses dealing with the EU and counts for businesses dealing with the non-EU do not sum to the total business counts. Businesses that are active in both EU and non-EU markets are counted once only in the total business counts.
The counts for businesses dealing with the EU now include businesses where the value of their intra-EU trade is below the Intrastat Exemption Threshold. Previously they were not included. Where businesses are active in more than one region, there are two methods of dealing with them:
  • Whole Number Method: If a business has at least one branch trading in that region they count as 1 in the business count of that region. This represents the actual count of businesses in any region. However, it will mean the sum of the business count for each region will be greater than that for the UK.
  • Proportion Method: The business count for each business totals as one across the UK. A business will be counted as a fraction in each region they trade based on the proportion of their employees in each region. These fractions are then summed and rounded to give a total business count for each region. The result is that the sum of each region's count will equal the UK business count.

What the data does not include

The RTS does not include estimates for non-response or estimates for the missing EU Imports associated with Missing Trader Intra-Community VAT Fraud (MTIC Fraud). RTS also excludes trade in non-monetary gold.