Do two thirds of Welsh exports go to the EU?

18 January 2017
What was claimed

68% of Wales’s exports go to the EU.

Our verdict

Correct, although this is counting goods exports only.

“How can abandoning membership of the customs union that takes 68% of Wales’s exports ... cause anything other calamitous self-harm?”

Hywel Williams MP, 18 January 2017

This figure is correct, although it refers to goods exports only.

It also reflects a relatively new way of measuring regional exports. On the old definition, official figures actually showed only a minority of Welsh exports going outside the UK to the European Union.

67% of Welsh goods exports went to EU member countries outside the UK in 2015, according to figures released by HM Revenue and Customs in December. (68% is correct for the first three months of 2016.)

But when these statistics came out in June, they showed the EU taking only 41% of Welsh exports in 2015. What’s going on?

StatsWales told us that there have been two recent changes in how trade in goods is measured. Exports used to ‘belong’ to a particular country or region of the UK if the exporting business had its head office there.

Now, exports are regionally allocated according to where the business’s employees are based. The statisticians say that’s made a big difference to the figures for Wales.

There’s also been a change in how goods in customs warehouses and free zones are counted (they no longer are until actually sold in the UK).

Either way, these figures only count goods exports. They don’t touch on services.

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