Scots exports up to £30bn but sales to UK fall

Scotland’s international exports — excluding oil and gas — increased by 1.6% to £29.8 billion in 2016, according to Scotland’s chief statistician.

However exports to the rest of the UK — excluding oil and gas — fell 8.8% to £45.8 billion in 2016.

The chief statistician released Export Statistics Scotland 2016, which provides estimates of the cash value of Scotland’s exports of goods and services, by industry and destination in 2016.

The increase in international exports was driven by increased exports of financial and insurance services, up £290 million, and food and beverages, up £275 million.

Scotland’s largest industry for international exports continues to be the manufacture of food and beverages, up £275 million (5.3%) to £5.5 billion in 2016 — 18% of all international exports.

Food and drink exports were driven by strong whisky exports worth £4 billion in 2016.

International exports to countries within the European Union (EU) were estimated at £12.7 billion in 2016, which is 43% of total international exports and a decrease of £105 million or 0.8% from the previous year.

However, international exports to non-EU countries increased in 2016, up £565 million or 3.4% to £17.1 billion in 2016 — about 57% of total international exports.

Scottish exports to the rest of the UK in 2016 — excluding oil and gas — were estimated at £45.8 billion in 2016, a decrease of £4.4 billion on 2015.

This decrease was driven by a fall in the export to the rest of the UK of utilities (electricity), down £1.6 billion or 27.4% in 2016.

Other sectors with large decreases in exports to the rest of the UK included wholesale and retail, down £855 million, and professional services, down £745 million.

Total international and rest of UK exports in 2016 — excluding oil and gas — were estimated at £75.6 billion, down £3.9 billion or 5% from 2015.

Exports to the rest of the UK accounted for 61% of this total, EU exports accounted for 17% and non-EU exports accounted for 23%.

The US continues to be Scotland’s top international export destination country at £4.8 billion.

Within the EU, the Netherlands (£2.1 billion) was again, the largest market, followed by France (£2 billion) and Germany (£1.9 billion) in 2016.

The Scottish government’s Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “It is encouraging to see that international exports continue to increase for Scottish businesses.

“Our Food and Drink sector is performing particularly well and as we implement our Trade & Investment Strategy and the outcome of the Enterprise & Skills Review we must now take the lessons that have been learned growing food and drink exports and encourage other sectors to follow their lead.

“It is encouraging to see increasing international interest in our professional and scientific services.

“These figures do, of course, cover a year of considerable uncertainty with the EU Referendum, the downturn in the oil and gas sector and the closure of Longannet – all of which have had an impact on these historic figures.

“However it is clear that if the UK Government continues in its plan to withdraw from the European single market and the customs union, putting barriers in the way of international exports, that our economy could be severely damaged in future.

“As part of our efforts to boost Scotland’s export performance in any circumstance we have appointed Trade Envoys to champion Scottish interests at home and abroad, we’re continuing to enhance the SDI presence in Europe and we’re establishing new international innovation and investment hubs.

“And we will continue to push to remain in, at least, the single market and customs union and retain and rebuild the relationships Scottish businesses have in Europe.”

The UK government’s Scottish secretary David Mundell said: “We know that more than half a million Scottish jobs depend on the vital UK internal market.

“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is essential that we ensure the UK internal market continues unimpeded.

“The trade figures also show an increase of over half a billion pounds in exports to markets outside the EU.

“This demonstrates the opportunities that lie ahead for Scottish businesses, as we strike new, ambitious trade deals around the world.”