Presented by Mairi Spowage (University of Strathclyde and ESCoE)
Venue: Office for National Statistics, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ
Measuring interregional trade is difficult to do. Principally because data are rarely, if ever, directly collected on these trade flows. Understanding the pattern of interregional trade though is incredibly important. From understanding the effect of trade shocks to understanding the functioning of the regional economies, the absence of interregional trade data is a significant barrier to more detailed analysis. This is why there is so much interest in estimates of interregional trade flows from policymakers and academics. In turn, this is the motivation for this paper, which sets out our approach to constructing interregional trade data on a consistent basis for the UK.
This is not a uniquely UK challenge, and work has been done internationally on these same challenges. Much of this work is focussed on ‘top down’ disaggregations of national level data combined with estimation or attribution of interregional trade flows based on survey data. But this raises a number of challenges, particularly around the coverage of these surveys and the consistency with which these data are collected and reported. In this work we consider the range of existing approaches, alongside the (somewhat) unique data landscape of the UK, to better understand how a consistent set of interregional trade estimates – covering the whole economy – can be produced for the UK. We have already produced initial estimates of trade between Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales, using some of these approaches but the next stages of our work will take these further. In particular by focussing on how to improve and harmonize trade data and methods of estimation, and in turn support the development of a Supply and Use framework for regional tables within the UK.
Mairi Spowage is the Deputy Director at the Fraser of Allander Institute, based in the Department of Economics at the University of Strathclyde. Her areas of expertise include economic statistics, national accounting, public sector finances, and economic and fiscal forecasting. Mairi is leading on various projects to improve economic statistics in Scotland, looking at interregional trade, business engagement and encouraging graduates into careers in analysis. Previously, Mairi was the Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Fiscal Commission and the Head of National Accounts at the Scottish Government, and has over a decade of experience working in different areas of statistics and analysis, including transport, household surveys and performance measurement.