A Data Map of Existing UK Data Sources Related to Regional Trade

Considering the political importance of devolution, and emerging economic issues in UK’s trade policy arising from Brexit, there’s a pressing demand for data which can help understand internal trade flows within the UK.

This paper is the first in a series which seeks to understand and evaluate the feasibility of producing robust interregional trade flows statistics for the UK.The paper offers a description of common approaches to estimating interregional trade, and the data requirements needed to implement them. Since the project, as a whole, is primarily focused on the feasibility of non-survey approaches, the paper describes the process of “regionalizing” national tables to produce regional tables using non-survey methods.

It is argued that the best starting point for an interregional trade matrix for the UK is one which encompasses the four home nations; Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England. This is due to the fact that the Office of National Statistics, HMRC and devolved administrations already produce a considerable volume of data that can be used directly in the estimation of interregional trade flows. The general methods do however, offer a principle for further disaggregation of England in future.

This paper offers a description of current data in the UK relevant to the production of interregional trade estimates. This includes a short review of current data produced by HMRC, the ONS, the Northern Irish and Scottish administrations. This is followed by a brief description of new data sources which could be used for the implementation of popular approaches to estimating interregional trade. It is shown that freight data is the most promising data source for goods but that there are gaps in data sources suitable for estimating the interregional trade flows in services.

This ESCoE paper was first published in March 2018


Alastair Greig
Katerina Lisenkova
Picture of Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute
Graeme Roy

Dean of External Engagement in the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University and previously director of the Fraser of Allander Institute.