Does the North West export more than the UK average?
This question was asked by Rob Foreman of Rob Foreman Executive.
A UK or regional average level of exports is hard to define. This question is more about the North West’s trade position relative to other regions. Useful measures would be the net trade position (exports minus imports) of each region, the value of exports per capita for each region, or simply the level of exports for each region. Note that for the following analysis, regional breakdowns are available only for England.
The graph shows that only the North East and South West export more to the EU than they import. In terms of net position the North West is in third place – the least negative of all net-importer regions, importing £1.8 billion more from the EU than it exports. The average net position across each region is -£9.6 billion, or -£86 billion for all of England combined.
For non-EU trade positions, the West Midlands, North West and North east are the only net exporters. The North West comes second - exporting £2.6 billion more than it imports, behind the West Midlands which exports £3.8 billion more than it exports. The average net position is -£4.2 billion, or -£38 billion for all of England combined.
If we divide exports by population, the North West comes in 6th place for EU exports, exporting around £1,880 per person. For non-EU exports, the North West is 5th, exporting £1642 per person. The North West’s low rankings in this regard are due to the region having the largest population outside of London.
If we divided total exports by the number of regions we could answer the question directly, but without accounting for the population of each region this would not be a robust answer. Using exports per capita is probably the closest we can get to a solid answer here. As the final table shows, we would be in 6th place in this regard at £1641.80pp, putting the NW below the average for England of £1885.30pp.
Source: HMRC UK trade info. Note that HMRC’s methodology means that the exports from a Manchester branch of a London-based company will count as exports for London. Population stats are from the 2011 Census.