By Marcus Leach

The latest statistics on Overseas Trade with countries outside the European Union (EU) were released on 12 April 2011 by HM Revenue & Customs under arrangements set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This release includes the first provisional estimates of trade-in-goods between the UK and countries outside the EU for February 2011. At the same time revisions for all previously published Non EU data for 2010 and 2011 are also being released in line with the Overseas Trade Statistics Policy on Revisions.

The aggregate estimates here will differ slightly from those that are published by the Office for National Statistics as part of the Balance of Payments Balance of Payments (BoP), as the two sets of data are compiled to different sets of rules. The BoP publication shows a high level picture of UK trade-in-goods, whereas the OTS publication shows a detailed picture of the UK’s trade-in-goods by commodity and partner country. More detail about the differences between the BoP and OTS publications is shown in the following ‘Related Data’ tab.

Details of how users interested in import and export markets for specific types of goods make use of the detailed OTS data can be found in ‘The Customer Story’. You can access the detailed data in our interactive database here.

The aggregate estimates here will differ from the Eurostat publication Euro area external trade. The OTS is published as 'general trade' based upon goods recorded as they enter or leave the UK. This will include goods imported into and exported from a freezone or customs warehouse, regardless of their future use. The Eurostat EU external trade data are published as 'special trade' where goods are recorded as trade only when they enter free circulation or are accepted into Inwards Processing Relief (IPR).

The key points from this latest data are:

Non EU Exports

As announced on 18 January 2011, the February Non EU OTS incorporates a processing change which will inflate the February 2011 export figures. This change was required for compliance with EU legislation and to bring non EU export periods into line with non-EU imports, EU imports and EU exports. Previously, the non EU export reference periods have not related exactly to the calendar month — between 2-6 days of trade were not included in the current month but carried forward to the following month. This was for operational reasons that are no longer required. The change to bring the reference periods in line with the exact calendar month will mainly affect February 2011 data which will include an additional five days of trade (approx £1.8 billion); subsequent months data will all relate to the exact calendar month. The non EU export series has been backcast on the exact calendar month basis — tables can be found here.

The usual comparisons of this month’s figures with the previous month and same month the previous year will be distorted by the effect of the processing change. Therefore for this month, comparisons are provided both on the new and previous basis.

In February 2011 the total value of UK’s trade-in-goods exported to countries outside the EU was £12.1 billion.

As a comparison the total value of UK’s trade-in-goods exported to countries outside the EU in January 2011 was £9.36 billion and for February 2010 was £9.43 billion.

February 2011 showed a 29.0 per cent increase in exports compared to January 2011 and a 28.0 per cent increase in exports compared to February 2010.

Excluding the effect of the processing change the value for February 2011 is estimated to have been £10.3 billion. The processing change has therefore increased February trade by approximately 17.5 per cent. Without the change the data would have shown a 10.3 per cent increase in exports compared to January 2011 and a 9.5 per cent increase in exports compared to February 2010.

The total 2011 year to date value of UK’s trade-in-goods exported excluding February 2010 was £9.4 billion, which has been upwardly revised by £0.5 million. This is an increase of less than 0.1 per cent.

The total value of UK’s trade-in-goods exported for January 2010 to December 2010 was £121.3 billion, which has been upwardly revised by £20.1 million. All trade data for 2010 will remain provisional until August 2011.

Non EU Imports

In February 2011 the total value of trade-in-goods imported to the UK from countries outside the EU was £14.7 billion.

As a comparison the total value of UK’s trade-in-goods imported to the UK from countries outside the EU in January 2011 was £15.8 billion and for February 2010 was £12.7 billion.

February 2011 showed a 6.7 per cent decrease in imports compared to January 2011 and a 16.3 per cent increase compared to February 2010.

The total 2011 year to date value of UK’s trade-in-goods imported excluding February 2011 was £15.9 billion, which has been upwardly revised by £0.6 million. This is an increase of less than 0.1 per cent.

The total value of UK’s trade-in-goods imported for January 2010 to December 2010 was £177.1 billion, which has been downwardly revised by £12.9 million. All trade data for 2010 will remain provisional until August 2011.

The Non EU import figures are unaffected by the processing change.