The figures for regional imports and exports of goods have overall shown a steady increase throughout 1999.

The total value of trade by region, with a breakdown showing EU and non-EU imports and exports, is given in Tables 1 to 4. These figures should be considered in the context that this is a new data series and comparisons with patterns of trade in earlier years are not yet possible.

The latest figures show that all regions increased the value of their EU exports between the third quarter (Q3/99) and the fourth quarter (Q4/99).The value of exports to countries outside the EU fell very slightly in most regions, however, a strong performance from the West Midlands resulted in a small overall increase for Q4/99.

The pattern for most regions for 1999 is of a steady increase in the overall value of their exports.

By value, imports remained stable during Q4/99. The largest increases in the value of imports from outside the EU were in Northern Ireland (17%) and the South West of England (12%). Yorkshire & the Humber recorded an increase in the value of imports from the EU of 23%; their neighbour, the North East, was next highest with 15%.

Tables 5 to 8 show the number of companies reporting imports and exports. (Note that the figures for EU trade reflect the companies supplying data under the Intrastat statistical reporting system. Where the value of trade with the EU falls below #230,000 companies are not required to supply trade figure data under the Intrastat system.

During 1999, the number of companies reporting exports, to EU and non-EU destinations, showed a modest increase, each quarter, for most regions. There was a similar picture for imports from the EU, however, the year’s figures show a gradual decrease in the number of companies importing goods from outside the EU.

Notes to Editors


1. The creation of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the nine Government Offices for the Regions and Regional Development Agencies in England has led to a need for more information about the regional economies. The amount of import penetration and the level of exports achieved, in each region, are seen as important economic indicators. However we cannot provide to journalists a more detailed breakdown of the figures contained in the 8 tables.

2. HM Customs and Excise are ideally placed to provide this information. The Tariff and Statistical Office has for many years produced the Overseas Trade in Goods statistics that form part of the Balance of Payments. The declarations already received from importers and exporters provide the most comprehensive record of the UK’s international trade. They provide an ideal source for this new regional data series.

3. Extensive consultations have been held with the devolved administrations and other potential users. At the same time, importers and exporters have been reassured that this new data series will not lead to an increase in the level of information that is provided by them on a regular basis.

4. Data is taken from Customs declarations submitted in respect of trade with countries outside the European Union and Supplementary Declarations submitted under the Intrastat system for trade figures with countries in the EU. Trade is allocated to a region through the postcode associated with a company’s VAT registration. Some adjustments have been necessary for exports to the EU, to ensure that manufacturing that takes place at branch premises is properly allocated to the region where the branch is situated. However, adjustments have not been possible for imports from the EU and therefore, in some cases, trade has been allocated to the region where the head office is situated. Exports to, and imports from, countries outside the EU already contain a regional coding.

5. Companies who trade with both EU countries and countries outside of the EU will appear more than once in the company count in tables 5 – 8.

6. The quarterly totals of the value of Regional Trade in Goods Statistics do not equate to the totals already published as the UK-wide Overseas Trade Statistics. Certain goods, such as North Sea crude oil, ships and aircraft stores, and those not in free circulation, that are shipped to EU countries using traditional Customs declarations, cannot be allocated to a UK region. Imports and exports relating to overseas companies, registered for VAT in the UK, but with no place of business in the UK, have been excluded. Also, trade below the Intrastat reporting threshold cannot be allocated to a region. In addition, some exports to countries outside the EU cannot be allocated to a region because the VAT registration numbers have not been properly declared.

7. These statistics refer to goods that have crossed the UK frontier. Customs and Excise do not receive information in respect of goods that move wholly within the UK. These figures also do not contain any information on the import or export of services such as banking or tourism.

8. Crown copyright 2000 HM Customs and Excise statistical news releases are subject to Crown copyright protection. Data and text may be reproduced without fee provided use is for genuine news gathering and distribution purposes. These figures may also be quoted in support and commentary and criticism. All other reproduction (especially for commercial use) requires specific copyright permission from The Stationery Office Ltd and payment of a reproduction fee, or must be the subject of a commercial agreement that includes such permission.

9. Figures for the first quarter of 2000 will be published on 27 July 2000. This will be after the launch of National Statistics in June.

For further information traders and their advisers should contact David Simpson or Laura Harkes-McKenzie at Customer Services, Tariff and Statistical Office, HM Customs and Excise, 5th Floor South Central, Alexander House, 21 Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS99 1AA.

This news release and other information about HM Customs & Excise can be found at our website:

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