Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics

The BESES is an experimental annual measure of local businesses’ sales to markets outside Northern Ireland.

Estimates of the number of businesses selling to markets outside NI are also presented. The latest estimates remain designated as ‘experimental’ to reflect the fact that they are under development.

Northern Ireland Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics, 2017 - published 12 December 2018

Headline Results - Exports


  • Total sales by companies in Northern Ireland (NI) were estimated to be worth £66.6 billion in 2017, a decrease of 1.7% (£1.1 billion) over the calendar year.
  • Sales within NI increased by £1.3 billion to £45.2 billion, up 2.9% over the year and are at the highest level since the survey commenced in 2011.
  • Sales to Great Britain (GB) decreased by £2.9 billion to £11.3 billion, down 20.2% over the year. 
  • Sales to markets outside the UK (exports) increased by £467 million (4.8%) over the year, to £10.1 billion.
  • Sales to all markets outside NI (external sales) i.e. GB sales plus exports, fell by £2.4 billion (10.1%) to £21.4 billion, and accounted for almost a third of total sales in 2017 (32.1%).
  • The falls in External sales and sales to GB over the calendar year are the first since the survey began in 2011. These were driven by a substantial decline in the Food, Beverages and Tobacco sub sector.
  • Exports to the Republic of Ireland (IE) increased by £540 million (16.2%) over the year, to £3.9 billion.
  • Exports to the Rest of the EU (REU, excluding IE) fell over the year by £269 million (12.1%) to £2.0 billion.  Exports to the Rest of the World (RoW) increased by £195 million (4.8%) over the year, to £4.3 billion.

Current publications and tables

EU Exit analysis

Comparison with HMRC Regional Trade Statistics

BESES estimates are not directly comparable with HMRC Regional Trade Statistics due to methodological differences. NISRA and HMRC have released a joint statement regarding the different value of exports produced by each method.

Background information

Archive data

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Related statistics

Manufacturing Sales and Exports Survey

The annual NI MSES provides information on the value of sales and exports generated by all businesses classified within the manufacturing industry in NI. 

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Exporting Northern Ireland Services

Based on information collected via the ITIS and supplemented with information from MSES and NIABI.

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