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UK Overseas Trade Statistics: The User Story

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1 UK Overseas Trade Statistics: The User Story
Published by: HM Revenue & Customs – Trade Statistics Version: August 2013 Customer Services: Website:

2 INDEX Section 1: Who are the users? Section 2: How is the data used?
This guide has been prepared to help visitors to understand who uses trade data, what for, and what they think of it. How users engage with HMRC is also explained. The guide is organised in the following sections: Section 1: Who are the users? Section 2: How is the data used? Section 3: How does HMRC engage with users? Section 4: The User Experience

3 Section 1: Who are the users?

4 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users Group 4 - Website Users Group 5 - Casual Enquirers Section 1

5 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Office for National Statistics (ONS) European Commission (Eurostat) Dept. for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) Org. for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) United Nations Section 1 Group 2 - Other Government Users Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users Group 4 - Website Users Group 5 - Casual Enquirers

6 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users Welsh Assembly Government Dept. of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Dept. for Transport HM Revenue & Customs internal customers Section 1 Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users Group 4 - Website Users Group 5 - Casual Enquirers

7 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users There are over 50+ such users who are represented by the: International Business Statistics User Group (IBSUG) Which Includes… - Data Retailers - Trade Associations - Freight Operators - Universities and Researchers Section 1 Group 4 - Website Users Group 5 - Casual Enquirers

8 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users Group 4 - Website Users Since re-launch in March 2012 has provided free access to detailed trade data without the need to register with the site. Usage data indicates (from 1 April 2012 – 31 July 2013): 247,000 unique visitors 59% returning visitors 76,000 data tables built using our interactive data tool Section 1 Group 5 - Casual Enquirers

9 Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users
Users of the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS), Regional Trade Statistics (RTS) and associated data produced by HMRC can be viewed as 5 main groups: Group 1 - Key Government Stakeholders Group 2 - Other Government Users Group 3 - Significant Commercial and Academic Users Group 4 - Website Users Group 5 - Casual Enquirers In 2012, 254 bespoke data or analysis requests made to our Customer Service team from: - Government Departments - Financial - Importers / Exporters - Press - Researchers - Academics - General Public Section 1

10 Section 2: How is the data used?

11 The Client Management Network &
Using sources such as: The Client Management Network & The 2009 Triennial Review of the UK Intrastat Survey …we have identified a variety of uses to which the UK OTS, RTS and associated trade data is currently applied. A selection of users identified from the 5 main user groups is displayed in the following slide. Section 2 Note: HMRC has a variety of channels it uses to engage with the 5 main user groups. These will be covered in Section 3.

12 Please click logos for websites.
The ONS use the trade data in the preparation of the UK’s Balance of Payment figures. The statistics are regarded as an important economic indicator of the performance of the UK, and are of interest to HM Treasury, the Bank of England and House of Commons. Export data is used as an indicator of the state of health of the UK manufacturing industry. BIS are the lead department for trade policy and key stakeholders for the OTS and RTS, of which they are the main Government user. The data contribute to BIS monitoring trade and trade policy for the UK, the UK Government Office Regions and devolved administrations. BIS also has its own trade publications under various classifications, to which HMRC data contributes. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) use RTS data as a component within its own trade bulletin, specifically highlighting Welsh exports. Trade Statistics HMRC data is used as an economic indicator by Eurostat (the EU Statistical Office) and the European Central Bank. Eurostat publishes EU trade balance indicators, and makes detailed EU Member States data available on their ‘Comext’ website. DECC receives trade data specific to fuels and related commodity codes, using them to verify data they receive from trade sources for policy monitoring purposes. They also contribute to HMRC data quality assurance. Section 2 DEFRA uses trade in food, drink and animal feed data to inform their trade policy, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and animal health and welfare planning and decision making. The data are also a component of DEFRA’s main statistical document, ‘Agriculture in the UK’, which informs industry members and meets requirements under the Agriculture Act 1993. Data Retailers use a variety of sources to provide commercial data services to a wide range of customers. Trade associations make industry specific trade data available to their members to monitor markets and performance. Academics use trend data to contribute to trade related research papers, and journalists identify ‘high-interest’ trade performance to feed current affairs news stories. The UN publishes trade statistics from approx. 200 countries (including the UK), on its Commodity Trade Statistics Database. OECD compare worldwide trade performance. receives 20,000 unique visits each month from government, financial, import / export, press, research, academic and general public sectors. Commercial uses of the data have included monitoring the UK for import penetration, identifying future overseas markets, and assessing lending and investment risk. Please click logos for websites.

13 The UN View The UN underlines that Trade Statistics are compiled to serve the needs of: Governments The business community Researchers The public at large Compilers of other economic statistics (e.g. the Balance of Payments and National Accounts) Various regional, supranational and international organizations …and that the uses of Trade Statistics include: Development of national, regional and international trade policy, including trade negotiations, monitoring trade agreements and settling trade disputes Establishing general economic policy (inc. policies on sustainable development, Fiscal/ Monetary/ Structural and Sectoral matters and addressing issues of environmental and health concerns Market analysis to find supply sources of foreign markets and, in combination with structural business statistics, to determine traders’ economic characteristics Section 2 Infrastructure planning (harbours, airports, roads etc.) Compilation of the import component of the various price indexes (e.g. cost-of-living indices); Input and forecasting into the framework of the system of National Accounts and Balance of Payments Establishing supply balances to monitor commodity markets (in areas such as Agriculture and Energy in particular) Compilation of transport statistics Source: The United Nations ‘International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS): Concepts and Definitions 2010’

14 Steel Producing Companies
Commercial Users The following 2 slides provide an insight to data usage from 2 key members of IBSUG: Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau Limited (ISSB) ISSB Ltd is owned by the steel producing companies in the UK. Its primary function is to collect and distribute data on the steel industry. Other UK Stats Data Collected Steel Producing Companies UK Customs Data bought Data Retailers Industry Totals circulated back Section 2 Confidential Reports UK Trade Data This data is useful in monitoring the UK market and individual companies’ market share. It provides companies with a measure of their performance. - ISSB collects global customs data related to the trade of steel and its raw materials. - The information is sold to numerous customers around the world. - This data is vital to understanding the global movement of steel and is used to monitor the activity of various countries and regions. As it is a basic commodity, trade in steel gives an indication of the condition of a country’s economy.

15 Commercial Users (continued)
The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) The MTA represents the UK machine tool and manufacturing technology sector. It represents engineering based manufacturing and supports the advanced engineering sector through lobbying, media contact and networking. A major function of the MTA is to promote increased trading opportunities for its members. The Association has a dedicated business development department offering a range of services to its members, including industry intelligence and statistics that support international trade. Section 2 Individual product trade is tracked External markets are tracked Market size is calculated Machine tool demand is forecasted Imports / Exports Data Click on the following link to view a presentation on National Statistics data usage delivered in January 2010 by Geoff Noon (MTA Statistician) to IBSUG.

16 Data Usage Metrics
In general: 23,000 unique visitors monthly 12,500 subscribers to Alert Service 5, customers access the Build Your own Tables area a month 59% return visits in first 14 months 81% of visits from UK Top 5 visits from US, Germany, India, France and Ireland Section 2 In a quarter: 42,000 visits to Build Your Own Tables 22,100 visits to OTS Non-EU Latest Release 16,100 visits to OTS EU Latest Release 67,200 visits to RTS Latest Release

17 Section 3: How does HMRC engage with users?

18 Key Government Stakeholders, Other Government Users,
HMRC Trade Statistics unit uses a variety of channels to engage with its users, depending upon which of the 5 main user groups the user fits into: Key Government Stakeholders, Other Government Users, Significant Commercial and Academic Users are… (1) Allocated a Client Manager ..and are.. (2) Involved in Working Groups Website Users and Casual Enquirers are supported by… (3) A dedicated Trade Statistics Customer Service Team (4) An Alert Service & News area …and have access to: (5) Data & Service Feedback Templates Section 3 All Users are engaged via… and have access to the … (6) User Consultations (8) Joint Customs Consultative Committee (7) Surveys & Reviews (9) HMRC Complaints procedure (10) Trade Challenge process All numbered channels to be explained in the following slides.

19 Summary of User Engagement Channels
Section 3

20 (1) Trade Statistics Client Management Network
Key users of UK trade data are allocated a dedicated, named Client Manager from within the statistical staff of HMRC’s Trade Statistics unit. The Client Manager is responsible for: Managing the interface between the customer and Trade Statistics unit teams. Managing HMRC’s obligations to the customer (usually through a Memorandum of Understanding) and reviewing satisfaction regularly. Acting as a channel for the receipt of customer queries and requests and ensuring action is taken to deliver an appropriate and timely response. Acting as a channel for consulting the customer on significant business issues and for User Consultation, Survey & Review etc. Regularly sharing information and knowledge identified through customer engagement with other Client Managers, Senior Managers and ,where appropriate, other customers. Section 3

21 (2) Working Groups HMRC staff are actively involved in the following stakeholder working groups: Eurostat - Intrastat / Extrastat Committees and Working Groups - representing the UK view in EU statistical policy developments EU - Taxation & Customs Union (TAXUD) Committees and Working Groups - representing the UK view in commodity classification and duty liability matters ONS Balance of Payments (BoP) Liaison - working with the ONS to ensure appropriate trade input to the UK BoP figures International Trade Statistics Expert Group - representing the UK in pan-World policy discussion and good practice sharing International Business Statistics User Group (IBSUG) - representing HMRC in regular plenary engagement with user body representatives Section 3

22 (3) Customer Service Team Support
HMRC provides a Customer Service team to support general users of trade data. They assist users of to: Find and access data Build data tables Utilise the products and services provided. The Customer Service team is available during standard business hours. Click here for contact details. In 2012 they received approximately 21,600 enquiries. 9,900 of these related to published trade data, of which 254 resulted in the production of bespoke data, detailed data analysis or quality investigation. The Customer Service team facilitates a number of the other engagement and feedback channels detailed in the following slides. Section 3

23 (4) Email Alert Service and News
HMRC operates a free Alert Service from the uktradeinfo website: A short and web link to a related News item on the uktradeinfo (or partner) site is sent to communicate cross-Government statistical and international trade related messages. The Alert Service has 36 sectors covering topics such as: UK trade data Commodity classifications HMRC regulations DEFRA, ONS, BIS and European Commission content. Regular Alerts include confirmation of publication of OTS and RTS data, ONS Balance of Payments release, Intrastat declaration reminders and commodity code changes. The Alert Service is used as a key channel for encouraging user input to User Consultations, Surveys and Reviews and for obtaining informal feedback. Approximately 12,500 customers subscribe to free alerts, including 923 for surveys 2213 for HMRC Public Notices. Click here for registration information. Section 3

24 (5) Data & Service Feedback Templates
HMRC encourages users of its National Statistics products to provide feedback to help it improve its portfolio. A pre-prepared template is hosted on the HMRC website here. In addition… has a page feedback facility on the bottom of most pages, and a site and service feedback form here. When the Trade Statistics Customer Service team corresponds with users via , the signature footer contains a link to the feedback form. Feedback is also regularly received in general s. Users use the ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Hints’ content on the HMRC National Statistics enquiry page to direct their comments. Help content created in response to user feedback following site re-launch in 2012 can be viewed here. Section 3

25 (6) User Consultation HMRC Trade Statistics unit consults data users both formally and informally. Consultations are published in a dedicated area of accessible here. Users are made aware of consultation exercises through: Signposting on the website home page Circulation of Alerts and News items Direct promotion to the Client Management Network. Formal Consultations These are bound by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and Cabinet Office guidelines. As such, they must be in a Clear, Concise and Accessible format, with a 12 Week Response Period. The outcome of a formal consultation must be published. Informal Consultations These are also published in the dedicated area of Common examples include amendment proposals for the Combined Nomenclature used by the EU for statistical and tariff purposes, which in turn link to guidance on how users can make their own proposals. Section 3

26 (7) Surveys & Reviews In addition to formal consultations, the Trade Statistics unit periodically conducts Surveys and Reviews of products and services. These provide an opportunity to gauge the opinions of data providers/users and also help identify issues for improvement. Surveys can be as simple as web pop-ups seeking views of web content and presentation. Reviews tend to be more structured…. A recent example of a structured review was the ‘2009 Triennial Review of the Intrastat Survey’. This identified views on the cost effectiveness of this monthly statistical survey, the outcome of which can be viewed in the dedicated User Consultation web area here. Section 3

27 (8) Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC)
The JCCC is a joint HMRC / trade consultative committee established in 1969. The purpose of the JCCC is to discuss proposals to change Customs procedures, and documentation related to the entry and clearance of goods. Meeting 4 times per year, the JCCC provides HMRC with an opportunity to consider representations from over 20 member associations on a face-to face basis. Members associations can be seen here. Issues pertaining to Customs procedures can have relevance to users as well as providers of UK trade data. This is illustrated by the statistical and Customs interest in Combined Nomenclature (CN) goods classification codes. HMRC Trade Statistics unit promotes awareness of JCCC proposals, surveys and issues by hosting relevant News and Consultation content and by issuing appropriate Alerts, as well as direct promotion to the Client Management Network. Representatives of the Trade Statistics unit and Customs personnel consult each other on matters of common interest, ensuring their respective stakeholders contribute to a cohesive UK view. Section 3

28 (9) HMRC Complaints Procedure
HMRC encourages complaints as they provide an opportunity to identify things that aren’t working well, and to be able to put things right, improving future services for all customers. HMRC has a single corporate complaints procedure that it encourages customers to use if they have been unable to resolve their issue with the office they normally deal with. HMRC’s complaints procedure can be viewed in detail here. In the last year, HMRC Trade Statistics unit received no formal complaints regarding the accuracy of specific detailed statistics. Complaints received are fully investigated and may also be referred to the National Statistician’s Office for assurance regarding statistical integrity. Section 3

29 (10) Trade Statistics Trade Challenge Process
HMRC have an established procedure for users to report and challenge published trade data that they believe to contain anomalies. Information regarding the specific data elements and why they are believed to be wrong, is sent to the Customer Service team who will arrange for an investigation (subject to available resource). Details of the reporting procedure are available on here. In 2012 HMRC received a total of 73 trade challenges. Due to the nature of the challenges i.e. querying the commodity code, country, value, net mass, volume or a combination of any of these fields, the investigations conducted necessitated the checking of thousands of individual lines of data. Amendment of data was conducted in line with the OTS Revisions Policy available here. An example of an unscheduled revision conducted in the last year is available here. Section 3

30 Section 4: The User Experience

31 As demonstrated in Section 1 there are a variety of different users of OTS and RTS data and a number of ways that HMRC engages with them – see Section 3. These channels have provided useful insight into the user perception of the data and service we provide. The following slides provide a snapshot of the user perception, starting with some feedback sound bites….. Section 4

32 Feedback Soundbites “I have a small business and I am writing to you to say that your website is very helpful to me. I hope the government won't decommission your website. Please send my to the decision makers so they know how useful this website is and how much we appreciate this.” Commercial data and guidance user “Excellent team to deal with, most helpful.” Detailed data user “This information helps to inform the priorities & risks of the reliefs that are in the operational framework and tactical plan.” Government user “The data is particularly useful in monitoring the UK market and the market share of individual companies. It provides the [member] companies with a measure of their performance.” Trade user Section 4 “The interactive database is absolutely excellent – first class job and very useful. I found my way around the site quite easily. Help notes in the 3 different formats meant my queries were immediately answered with very clear instructional guidance. Promotion to other Trade Associations would be very useful. We should and could make good use of the statistical information that HMRC has provided. Pass on my congratulations to the team responsible.” Trade Association

33 “The detailed trade data we use has improved, but it still isn’t as accurate as we would like it to be. We would like to work with you to improve the data declared by our members and published by you.” Trade Association “If we lost the data it would affect the quality of our decision-making and policy work.” Government user “HMRC are thanked for their comprehensive investigation and top quality service”. Government user "Consistent 1st class service has always been provided.“ Bespoke data user Section 4 “I didn’t want to go away from your service without saying to someone how surprised and pleased I was by the help I received from the person who happened to pick up my call. Not only was I amazed that she had the patience to talk me through using the database while I followed her instructions, she was good enough to check my findings and verify them by carrying out the same searches as me, and delivering the proof by . As a journalist (not that she knew I was at the time) this was not only immensely reassuring and useful but an almost unprecedented experience for me in dealing with a government department. I am impressed, grateful and delighted.” Journalist

34 “Thanks very much – a very useful response
“Thanks very much – a very useful response. Tell me how I your boss, you’re the most helpful person I’ve ever dealt with in a government department!” New data user "Overall very impressed.” Web user “The data is essential to us as it is the only source of information that allows us to profile third country trade by business type, region etc. and its importance is recognised by business heads across HMRC.” HMRC user "Excellent service from very helpful staff.“ Journalist Section 4 "I have always found your people helpful but their demeanour and perhaps scope (resources) for helping just gets better every year.“ Casual data enquiry “An excellent official UK import and export resource.” Commercial user

35 “Described by judges as ‘excellent and innovative’ and ‘a wonderful example for other statisticians’, its design was based on extensive consultation with users. It not only offers increased data availability but simplified data access, improved data visualisation with time series, tabulation, charting and mapping within an interactive multi-dimensional data cube, and enhanced table storing and sharing capability for social media users. All of this was achieved with a 20 per cent cost saving. Judges particularly liked the facility for users to build their own tables and charts from the extensive overseas trade database and to share these via and social media.” Section 4 RSS ‘Excellence in Official Statistics Award 2013’ Judging Panel citation

36 Website Referrals A growing number of worldwide websites link to as a useful source for trade data, information and guidance. Sample introductions include... “Not your average resource. This cheeky little chappy is actually an HMRC site in possession of a whole lorryfull of import/export statistics. You can use it to do (pretty darn advanced) research, but also find things like the right commodity code for your goods or the right airport or seaport code.” Section 4 “In the UK there is a site called uktradeinfo, where you can track imports and exports into the EU by customs tariff. To give an example, a few years ago one of my clients was able to gather information on the movement of an uncommon chemical into the UK which from his market knowledge enabled him to extrapolate information on competitors and get a better price from his supplier as he was able to see the total value of the import.”

37 2009 Triennial Review of the Intrastat Survey
The full report (published May 2010) can be viewed here. Summary user findings included:  81% of users stated they used free HMRC trade data. 71% of those who contacted HMRC to obtain EU trade data were satisfied with the service they received.  74% were satisfied with the quality of EU statistics produced by HMRC. Recommendations to improve EU data users satisfaction were: ☺ Increase the presence of the uktradeinfo Customer Service team contact details on the uktradeinfo website. ☺ Investigate providing functionality allowing the presentation and download of multiple year data in the uktradeinfo interactive tables. ☺ Take steps to improve user understanding of the data available to them by improving the metadata offered and the availability / linkage to other data products.

38 The Eurostat (EU Statistical Office) View
Eurostat carries out an annual quality assessment of Member State’s international trade data. Click here for the latest UK assessment. Eurostat also publish an annual Quality Report available here. Eurostat also have a rolling programme of assessment visits to Member States. The report from the last UK visit (July 2009) can be viewed here. Summary comments included: “Eurostat concluded that the UK was very compliant and respected the requirements of trade statistics legislation.” “Eurostat praised HMRC for its recurring willingness to support and assist in initiatives concerning innovation, changes of legislation and burden reduction.” “The positive relations between trade statistics and customs - both within HMRC - were highlighted as a catalyst to solutions to Extrastat issues.” “Dissemination appears very much tailored to the need of users.”

39 Useful International Resources
Eurostat Comext website: UN Commodity Based Trade Database (ComTrade):

40 Thank you uktradeinfo Customer Services HM Revenue & Customs
Alexander House, 3SC 21 Victoria Avenue Southend on Sea SS99 1AA Telephone no

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