Tue, 17 May 2022

The latest Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics (BESES) trade in goods and services estimates for 2020 were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Results from 2019 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit survey.

The bulletin can be accessed on the NISRA website.

Main results

Total sales of goods decreased by 7.4%

  • Total sales of goods were estimated to be worth Pound 44.7 billion in 2020. Sales of goods decreased by 7.4% over the year (Pound 3.6 billion), compared to an increase of 4.1% the previous year. Sales of goods represented two thirds (66.6%) of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion) in 2020.

Total purchases of goods decreased by 9.1%

  • Purchases of goods were estimated to be worth Pound 33.6 billion in 2020. Purchases of goods decreased by 9.1% over the year (Pound 3.3 billion), compared to an increase of 4.4% the previous year. Purchases of goods represented 77.4% of total purchases in 2020 (Pound 43.7 billion).

Total sales of services decreased by 2.9%

  • Sales of services represented 33.4% of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion) in 2020 and were estimated to be worth Pound 22.4 billion. Sales of services decreased by 2.9% over the year (Pound 0.7 billion), compared to an increase of 2.9% the previous year.

Total purchases of services increased by 0.8%

  • Purchases of services represented 22.6% of total purchases in 2020 and were estimated to be worth Pound 9.8 billion. Purchases of services increased by 0.8% over the year (Pound 0.1 billion), compared to a decrease of 9.5% the previous year.

Trade with Great Britain made up 16.3% of total sales and 30.4% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Great Britain made up 16.3% (Pound 10.9 billion) of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion). Of this, 60.9% (Pound 6.7 billion) related to the sale of goods and 39.1% (Pound 4.3 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from GB made up 30.4% (Pound 13.2 billion) of total purchases. Of this 80.2% (Pound 10.6 billion) was purchases of goods and 19.8% (Pound 2.6 billion) was purchases of services.

Trade with Ireland made up 6.1% of total sales and 6.4% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Ireland made up 6.1% (Pound 4.1 billion) of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion). Of this, 74.8% (Pound 3.1 billion) related to the sale of goods and 25.2% (Pound 1.0 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from Ireland made up 6.4% (Pound 2.8 billion) of total purchases. Of this 88.4% (Pound 2.5 billion) related to the import of goods and 11.6% (Pound 0.3 billion) to the import of services.

Trade with Rest of EU made up 3.3% of total sales and 5.3% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Rest of EU made up 3.3% (Pound 2.2 billion) of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion). Of this, 83.7% (Pound 1.8 billion) related to the sale of goods and 16.3% (Pound 0.4 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from REU made up 5.3% (Pound 2.2 billion) of total purchases. Of this 89.8% (Pound 2.0 billion) was import of goods and 10.2% (Pound 0.2 billion) was import of services.

Trade with Rest of World made up 6.0% of total sales and 4.7% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Rest of World made up 6.0% (Pound 4.0 billion) of total sales (Pound 67.1 billion). Of this, 76.3% (Pound 3.0 billion) related to the sale of goods and 23.7% (Pound 0.9 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from ROW made up 4.7% (Pound 2.0 billion) of total purchases. Of this 86.3% (Pound 1.8 billion) was import of goods and 13.7% (Pound 0.3 billion) was import of services.

Trade Balance

  • While trade balance usually refers to the difference between exports and imports, it is possible to derive a balance of trade for any domain of interest for which for both sales and purchases data exist. Bringing forward our imports publication to combine it with our exports of goods and services publication for the first time has allowed us to analyse the trade balance for various partners.
  • Total sales massively outweigh total purchases, with a difference of Pound 23.7 billion. This is mainly driven by NI trade where sales are worth Pound 45.9 billion and purchases are worth Pound 23.1 billion, resulting in a surplus of Pound 22.8 billion. NI has a trade surplus with IE of Pound 1.3 billion and with ROW (Pound 2.0 billion), and a trade deficit with GB (Pound 2.3 billion) and REU (Pound 0.1 billion).

Effect of COVID-19 and EU Exit on trade

  • Where a large change in trade is recorded over the year, it is normal practice to query the data with businesses. In the vast majority of cases, the changes in trade over the year 2019 to 2020 were explained by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Releases

  • The next Northern Ireland Quarterly Ports Traffic report will be published on 8 April 2022.
  • The next Labour Market Report will be published on 12 April 2022.
  • The latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) Pensions Report will be published on 20 April 2022

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