Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Northern Ireland Economic Trade Statistics 2021

Northern Ireland Executive
14 Dec 2022, 22 GMT+10

The latest Northern Ireland Economic Trade Statistics (NIETS) (formerly known as Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics), which measure both the sales and purchases of goods and services by Northern Ireland businesses in the non-financial business sectors, were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Northern Ireland Economic Trade Statistics (NIETS)

The bulletin can be accessed via the NISRA website.

The main results were:       

Total sales were worth Pound 77.1 billion in 2021

  • Total sales by NI companies increased by 13.6% (Pound 9.2 billion) from Pound 67.8 billion in 2020 to Pound 77.1 billion in 2021. The is the largest value of total sales on survey record.

Total value of external sales increased by 14.5%

  • The total value of external sales by Northern Ireland (NI) companies was estimated to be worth Pound 24.9 billion in 2021. This represents an increase of 14.5% (Pound 3.2 billion) over the year in current prices, compared to a decrease in the previous year of 3.6%.
  • External sales are comprised of:

    • Sales to Great Britain (GB) plus
    • Exports (sales to Ireland (IE), the Rest of Europe (REU) and the Rest of the World (ROW)). ROW refers to all other destinations outside the EU, GB and NI.

  • Sales to GB increased by Pound 1.5 billion to Pound 12.8 billion in 2021, up 13.1% over the year.
  • Exports increased by Pound 1.7 billion (16.0%) over the year in question, to Pound 12.2 billion.

Ireland remains our single largest export market

  • Exports to Ireland amounted to Pound 5.2 billion in 2021 and were noticeably higher than those to the Rest of the EU combined (Pound 2.6 billion). Exports to Ireland increased by Pound 1.0 billion (23.0%) in 2021.
  • Exports to the REU (EU, excluding IE) increased over the year by Pound 0.4 billion (16.8%) to Pound 2.6 billion.
  • Exports to the ROW (all countries outside the EU, GB and NI) increased by Pound 0.3 billion (8.3%) over the year to Pound 4.4 billion.

Sales within Northern Ireland increased by 13.2%

  • Sales within NI increased by Pound 6.1 billion between 2020 and 2021 to Pound 52.1 billion, a rise of 13.2% over the year.

Trade in Goods and Services

Sales of goods increased by 13.8% and represented two thirds of total sales

  • Sales of goods were estimated to be worth Pound 51.3 billion in 2021. Sales of goods increased by 13.8% over the year (Pound 6.2 billion), compared to a decrease of 6.6% the previous year. Sales of goods represented two thirds (66.6%) of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion) in 2021.

Purchases of goods increased by 13.6% and represented four fifths of total purchases

  • Purchases of goods were estimated to be worth Pound 33.8 billion in 2021. Purchases of goods increased by 13.6% over the year (Pound 4.6 billion), compared to a decrease of 7.6% the previous year. Purchases of goods represented four fifths (79.6%) of total purchases in 2021 (Pound 48.7 billion).

Sales of services increased by 13.3% and represented one third of total sales

  • Sales of services represented 33.4% of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion) in 2021 and were estimated to be worth Pound 25.8 billion. Sales of services increased by 13.3% over the year (Pound 3.0 billion), compared to a decrease of 1.3% the previous year.

Purchases of services remained static and represented one fifth of total purchases

  • Purchases of services represented 20.4% of total purchases in 2021 and were estimated to be worth Pound 9.9 billion. Purchases of services did not change over the year, compared to an increase of 2.4% the previous year.

Trade with Individual Trade Partners

Trade with Great Britain accounted for 16.6% of total sales and 29.7% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Great Britain made up 16.6% (Pound 12.8 billion) of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion). Of this, 61.1% (Pound 7.8 billion) related to the sale of goods and 38.9% (Pound 5.0 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from GB made up 29.7% (Pound 14.4 billion) of total purchases (Pound 48.7 billion). Of this 85.5% (Pound 12.3 billion) was purchases of goods and 14.5% (Pound 2.1 billion) was purchases of services.

Trade with Ireland accounted for 6.7% of total sales and 6.3% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Ireland made up 6.7% (Pound 5.2 billion) of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion). Of this, 74.7% (Pound 3.9 billion) related to the sale of goods and 25.3% (Pound 1.3 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from Ireland made up 6.3% (Pound 3.1 billion) of total purchases (Pound 48.7 billion). Of this 89.8% (Pound 2.8 billion) related to the import of goods and 10.2% (Pound 0.3 billion) to the import of services.

Trade with Rest of EU made up 3.4% of total sales and 5.2% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Rest of EU made up 3.4% (Pound 2.6 billion) of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion). Of this, 79.2% (Pound 2.1 billion) related to the sale of goods and 20.8% (Pound 0.5 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from REU made up 5.2% (Pound 2.5 billion) of total purchases (Pound 48.7 billion). Of this 86.8% (Pound 2.2 billion) related to the import of goods and 13.2% (Pound 0.3 billion) to the import of services.

Trade with Rest of World made up 5.7% of total sales and 4.3% of total purchases

  • Sales of goods and services to Rest of World made up 5.7% (Pound 4.4 billion) of total sales (Pound 77.1 billion). Of this, 74.9% (Pound 3.3 billion) related to the sale of goods and 25.1% (Pound 1.1 billion) to the sale of services.
  • Purchases of goods and services from ROW made up 4.3% (Pound 2.1 billion) of total purchases (Pound 48.7 billion). Of this 86.2% (Pound 1.8 billion) related to the import of goods and 13.8% (Pound 0.3 billion) to the 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 both sales and purchases data exist.
  • Total sales considerably exceed total purchases, by a difference of Pound 28.4 billion. This is mainly driven by trade within NI where sales are worth Pound 52.1 billion and purchases are worth Pound 26.5 billion, resulting in a surplus of Pound 25.6 billion. NI has a trade surplus (i.e., we sell more than we purchase) with IE of Pound 2.1 billion, REU of Pound 0.1 billion and with ROW of Pound 2.3 billion. In contrast, NI has a trade deficit with GB of Pound 1.7 billion (i.e., we purchase more from GB than we sell to GB).

Effect of COVID-19 and EU Exit on trade

  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the economy during 2020, due to (i) lockdown measures being introduced to mitigate its spread and (ii) prolonged periods of business closures. This should be borne in mind when considering the change in trade estimates between 2020 and 2021.
  • When the figures are viewed in the broader picture of trends observed over the past number of years, the 2021 figures broadly align with what might reasonably have been expected were it not for the impact of the pandemic in 2020.

Other Releases

NISRA will release the following publications in December 2022:

  • Research and Development Survey on 15th December.
  • Index of Production on 15th December.
  • Index of Services on 15th December.
  • Retail Sales Index on 15th December.
  • Quarterly Ports Statistics Q3 2022 on 21st December.

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