Thanks to Elaine Lloyd (whose tweet I pinched)  for these figures.

And thanks to Kangaroo for pointing us in this direction:


Country Year end Q3 2017 Comparison (prev. year)
Exports: £323.6bn

Imports: £461.3bn



Exports: £241.1bn

Imports: £369.4bn



Exports: £16.4bn

Imports: £17.1bn



Exports: £28.0bn

Imports: £22.9bn



Exports: £8.5bn

Imports: £7.4bn



Note: United Kingdom figures include trade that can not be attributed to individual nations

22 thoughts on “TOO WEE, TOO POOR, TOO STUPID”

  1. Right, as a percentage of total external trade (exports + imports), the deficit / surplus equals, to the nearest whole percentage:

    England: -21%

    Wales: -15%

    Norniron: -11%

    Scotland: +3%

    Some questions need to be asked about the raw figures, of course, and I´m not up to finding and checking them right now.

    1. As has been said, are goods leaving Scotland for export but transiting England being properly credited to our account? I´d be particularly interested in trade in high-value stuff that attracts excise and other duties, in particular whisky and all the other booze Scotland produces.

    2. Oil and gas – there are big question marks over accounting for those, in every sense, not to mention any territorial claims.

    3. Are invisibles, or so they used to be called – profits and losses on financial and other services, (re)insurance, aviation, shipping and quite a few other things – included, or do the figures relate to actual stuff and widgets only?

    4. Cross-border trade: do we know what our balance of trade is with England (and to a lesser extent, Wales and Noriron)? I can think of one export – electricity – that an independent Scotland would be charging more for. The amount of power we export – maybe someone with more knowledge than me – has been brought down by the closure of Longannet, but we would have wanted to shut that down anyway because it burned coal.

    Even if it were to turn out that Scotland is running a trade deficit, it wouldn´t necessarily be worrying – nothing is beyond our capacity to fix, but only if we junk the idea that we are too wee, to poor and too stupid to do it – because that stops us before we even start. Cf. the phenomenon of learned helplessness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We don’t “know” what the cross border trade is. There is no mechanism for recording it. The numbers we are told are estimates with many companies expressing an inability to even work out where they buy & sell from “internally”. The export numbers are known because of the VAT requirement to record imports and exports.

      The whisky excise duty is a simplistic argument. Yes the UK treasury collects a lot of tax on it. But that tax is accrued to their country. If we were independent it would still accrue to them. There is no export duty. What Scotland gets is all the production jobs and a lot of related jobs. It would only get excise on the bit sold in Scotland. But there is a big problem to do with ownership which might be a driver of the producers antipathy to independence. Whisky has become mostly foreign owned by giant corporations. They act like other big companies. That is perhaps something we might like to address in the future – should an oil fund buy back our whisky industry for example?

      Tourism is another funny one. We don’t have to fill in a form for the authorities at a hotel here. How would you know where visitors came from? How much do they spend? We know about people coming to the UK from outside the EU – forms again – but where do they go once they are in the UK? So its all surveys and estimates.

      The data is not generally available to make an informed guess. Although I would recon Expedia and the hotel chain websites would be able to make a fair stab at it nowadays.

      What we do “know” is that the Irish Republic has officially got a trade surplus. It has a massive surplus. It has weaned itself off its dependency on the UK market. It is our role model at least in broad trade & economics. And it does not have oil. And it is Independent.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I have a number of friends in the whisky industry who will be surprised to learn they work for a Dutch company.

        When we become our own masters “Big” business needs sorting out. If that means taking back Scots assets, so be it. Scots assets should be owned and registered and taxed in Scotland.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thanks! Your points about the excise duties on whisky (and other types of booze) are well taken, Dave [is it OK to call you that?]. Given that so much of the booze industry here is owned by foreign-based companies, it seems to me that we get from those excise duties only our population / Barnett share of the money we make for the Westminster regime, and almost all the profits from the exercise are spirited (see what I did there) out of the country to the benefit of foreign shareholders and other interests – well, who knows what giant multinational companies do with their money anyway, except that they spend quite a lot of it making sure that no one can really find out. In other words, whoever benefits most from the fruits of our labour, it is certainly not us.

        Tourism – oil – we just don´t know, really, do we? I read in the National an article by Martin Hannan dated 13 February ( reporting that Common Weal had floated a recommendation for an independent Scottish statistics agency to be set up. That sounds like a great good idea to me, given that They would far rather we be kept in ignorance about our true financial and economic position, so as to allow Them free rein with the ¨too poor¨ pillar of ¨too wee, too poor, too stupid¨.

        ¨Too wee, too poor, too stupid¨ is the triptych on the altar at which Yoons worship. They also have a side chapel where they keep the three monkeys See no evil, Hear no evil and Speak no evil, their spiritual guides in relation to the British State.

        It must be very bad for their brains and their self-esteem, but I expect I should stop rambling already.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Good points, to which I can’t give definitive answers.

      I read somewhere that oil and gas have not be attributed to a country. They are simply British.

      I can’t imagine that they have started to separate those thing which are exported from English ports but crossed the border to be so.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kangaroo! Actually, thank you to everyone for their input on this. Some of it I didn´t know, and some of it I hadn´t thought of or about.

      I´ve used the figures in Kangaroo´s source to recalculate my table ((exports+imports)/(deficit or surplus)*100).

      UK as a whole: -17.5% (-18%, but it´s 17.55% to two decimal places)

      England: -21% (same)

      Wales: -2% (-15%)

      Norniron: +7% (-11%)

      Scotland: +10% (+3%)

      So – the rankings are unchanged between the headline figures quoted by Tris. Every part of the UK other than England is in a better position regarding external trade than England, but depending on what the reporting period actually was for the two sets of figures, there has been either a deterioration or an improvement in our position. Smaller economies can be expected to show greater interannual variability.

      I´m wondering about the effects of companies withdrawing from the UK market in advance of Brexit as a factor in our performance; if I were in charge of that for a company in, oh, Düsseldorf, I would be pulling in my horns in the smaller, more peripheral markets first. In other words, us.

      One conclusion is incontrovertible and should be uncontentious as well: England is dragging the rest of us down. That said, it is not in our interest for our largest trading partner to go mad and start self-harming.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They’ve already self harmed.

        If voting to leave the biggest/richest trading group in the world and go it alone with a bunch of incompetent nincompoops in charge…(I mean there MUST be more competent people that the ones that are running this) isn’t self hard, then what is?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Gordon Ross from indycar on youtube suggests the ‘YES’ stalls are starting up on Saturday’s. It would be useful to have a copy of this HMRC page on display on these stalls. If you are around and see a stall perhaps you can check.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Using the percentage increase figures gives the following for 2016 (previous year).
    Scotland Export 23.3b Import 20.5b Surplus 2.8bn.
    England Export 211.3b Import 333.09b Deficit 121.79bn

    I am sure I recall that Scotland has had positive balance of trade figures for decades.

    Liked by 1 person

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