Northern Ireland Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics 2017

Date published: 12 December 2018

The latest experimental Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics (BESES) for 2017 were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

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The bulletin can be accessed via the NISRA website.

Main results

Total value of external sales decreased by 10.1 per cent

  • The total value of external sales by Northern Ireland (NI) companies was estimated to be worth £21.4 billion in 2017. This represents a decrease of 10.1 per cent (£2.4b) over the year in current prices, compared to a rise in the previous year of 2.8 per cent. The 2016 figure of £23.8b was the highest recorded external sales figure since the survey began in 2011 and the fall in 2017 is the first recorded fall in external sales. 
  • External sales are comprised of sales to Great Britain (GB) plus Exports (sales to the Republic of Ireland (IE), the Rest of Europe (REU) and the Rest of the World (RoW))
  • Sales to GB decreased by £2.9 billion to £11.3 billion, down 20.2 per cent over the year. This is the first fall in sales to GB on survey record.
  • The annual decline in sales to GB (and hence external sales) is driven by a substantial decline in the Food, Beverages and Tobacco sub sector.
  • Exports increased by £467 million (4.8 per cent) over the year, to £10.1 billion, following a 2.1 per cent increase (£199 million) in the value of total exports in 2016. These are the highest level of export sales on survey record.

 Increase in sales to main export markets

  • Exports to IE increased in 2017 by £540 million or 16.2 per cent to £3.9 billion. This follows an increase of 0.4 per cent in 2016. IE remains our single largest export market.
  • Exports to the REU (excluding IE) decreased over the year by £269 million (12.1 per cent) to £2.0 billion.
  • Exports to the RoW (all countries outside the EU) increased by £195 million (4.8 per cent) over the year, to £4.3 billion.

Sales within Northern Ireland increased by 2.9%

  • The BESES also shows that sales within NI increased by £1.3 billion to £45.2 billion, up 2.9 per cent over the year to the highest level on the survey record. When added to the value of external sales, total sales by NI companies decreased by 1.7 per cent (£1.1 billion) in 2017 to £66.6 billion.




Notes to editors: 

  1. The BESES series is designated as experimental statistics under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics reflecting the fact that they are still under development.
  2. This bulletin provides information on the value of sales and exports generated by businesses in Northern Ireland. Figures for 2017 are provisional and may be subject to revision. This information is consistent with results for the non-financial business economy published by NISRA in November 2018 (Annual Business Inquiry (ABI)).
  3. The Code of Practice for Official Statistics recommends releasing statistical work in progress, such as experimental statistics. These are defined as “new official statistics undergoing evaluation that are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage”.
  4. More detailed statistical information including data tables and definitions of the methodology used is available on the NISRA website.
  5. For media enquiries, please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604 or Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 028 90378110 and your call will be returned.
  6. General information can be obtained from Damian Buchanan, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch, on Tel: (028) 9052 9648 or at
  7. Follow ELMS on Twitter @ELMSNISRA


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