Northern Ireland Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics 2019

Date published: 28 April 2021

The latest Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics (BESES) for 2019 were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Headline results from the 2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.
Headline results from the 2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.

The main results were:

Total value of external sales increased by 3.3%

The total value of external sales by Northern Ireland (NI) companies was estimated to be worth £23.0 billion in 2019. This represents an increase of 3.3% (£0.7 billion) over the year in current prices, compared to an increase in the previous year of 1.3%.

External sales are comprised of:

  • Sales to Great Britain (GB) plus
  • Exports (sales to Ireland (IE), the Rest of Europe (REU) and the Rest of the World (ROW).

Sales to GB increased by £0.7 billion to £11.3 billion, up 6.6% over the year. This increase follows two consecutive years of falling sales to GB.

Exports increased by £45 million (0.4%) over the year, to £11.7 billion, following a 13.0% increase (£1.3 billion) in the value of total exports in 2018. This is the highest level of export sales on survey record.

Increase in sales to main export markets

Exports to IE increased in 2019 by £404 million or 9.9% to £4.5 billion. This follows an increase of 6.7% in 2018. IE remains our single largest export market.

Exports to the REU (EU, excluding IE) decreased over the year by £299 million (11.0%) to £2.4 billion.

Exports to the ROW (all countries outside the EU) decreased by £60 million (1.2%) over the year to £4.8 billion.

Sales within Northern Ireland increased by 5.2%

The BESES shows that sales within NI increased by £2.4 billion to £48.9 billion, up 5.2% over the year to the highest level on survey record. When added to the value of external sales, total sales by NI companies increased by 4.6% (£3.2 billion) in 2019 to £71.9 billion.

District Council Area exports

Belfast DCA accounted for the largest proportion of exports (21.0% or £2.5bn), followed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (15.4% or £1.8bn) and Newry, Mourne and Down (13.8% or £1.6bn).

Other Releases

The next Labour Market Report will be published on 18th May 2021.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will be releasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the countries and regions of the UK in May 2021 (date to be confirmed). This will include GDP for NI and its Local Government Districts and will cover the period 1998 to 2019.

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 release provides information on the value of sales and exports generated by businesses in NI. Figures for 2019 are provisional and may be subject to revision. This information is consistent with results for the non-financial business economy published by NISRA in March 2021 (Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) details of which can be found on Annual Business Inquiry page of the NISRA website.

3. This release was originally due to be published in December 2020. However it was necessary to extend the data collection period, and subsequently delay publication, in light of the current economic climate and pressures being faced by local businesses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available at the COVID-19 and the Production of Statistics page on the NISRA website.

4. The full BESES publication and associated tables can be found on the NISRA website.

5. More detailed statistical information including data tables and definitions of the methodology used is available on the NISRA website.

6. 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”.

7. For media enquiries, please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

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9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

10. General information regarding trade statistics can be obtained from Damian Buchanan, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch, on Tel: (028) 9052 9648 or at

11. Follow NISRA on Twitter

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