Chief Statistician’s update: Trade Survey for Wales

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Cymraeg

In a previous blog, I wrote about our plans for a pilot Trade Survey for Wales. The pilot is now complete and the results are published today.

I would like to thank all the businesses that took the time to respond to the survey. You have provided us with invaluable insight into trade activity in Wales.

Welsh Government’s Economic action plan seeks to pursue prosperity for all by supporting an economy that increases both our wealth and our well-being. In order to design effective policies for the Welsh economy it is essential to understand current business activity in Wales – this was the primary aim of our trade survey.

The original driver for developing more accurate and detailed trade information was EU exit, but now businesses are facing unprecedented challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The new trade statistics we have produced provide an essential pre-coronavirus baseline which reveals our reliance on international trade and can be used to underpin our future trade policies.

The survey received just over a 1,000 responses, capturing data from micro to large businesses, across numerous sectors. Respondents were asked for details of their sales and purchases of goods and services, both within the UK and abroad. This information has enabled us to estimate the total trade conducted by businesses in Wales, presented by business size, sector and markets.

By collecting information directly from businesses based in Wales we have been able to fill in some of the evidence gaps which were outlined in the Welsh Government publication ‘Trade policy: the issues for Wales‘. In particular, it has allowed us to sense-check existing regional trade statistics, which are modelled using UK level data. We have also been able to produce the first official estimates of trade between Wales and the rest of the UK.

It has always been suggested that the value of Welsh trade with the rest of the UK is several times greater than that of Welsh international trade. Our survey found that for sales from businesses in Wales, 80% were within the UK (including Wales).

Half of all sales from businesses in Wales were made to customers within Wales.

The results are ‘experimental statistics’ as they have some limitations in coverage and development work continues on this new methodology. The statistics should therefore be used with due attention to the data limitations outlined in the report. However, the results still offer useful new insight into the trade of businesses in Wales, in particular Wales’s reliance on trade with other parts of the UK compared to international trade.

The full 2018 findings release can be accessed on our statistics and research pages.

The team who are coordinating the trade survey welcome any feedback on this analysis please email them at

What next?

The next steps will involve further publications about Welsh trade, based on the survey results and the incorporation of alternative data sources to improve business and sector coverage.

There is a plan to run a second trade survey in autumn 2020, which will seek to collect 2019 trade data. This will help us understand whether the methodology for collecting trade data for Wales in this way yields reliable data over time.

If you would like to know any more about the next survey, please email

Stephanie Howarth
Head of economy, skills and natural resources statistics