Scotland’s strong export performance: get the facts

For centuries Scotland’s exports have reached every corner of the globe – and our trade performance continues to grow and strengthen.

Here’s five things you need to know about Scotland’s exports.

1.  Scotland’s international exports have increased by 44.7 per cent since the SNP came to office in 2007.

International exports, excluding oil and gas, have increased from £20.6 billion in 2007 to £29.8 billion in 2016. Over 2016, exports increased by £460 million compared to 2015.

And between 2016 and 2017 Scotland’s annual goods exports increased by over 19 per cent – a higher increase than the UK average and the highest of any UK nation.

2.  The Scottish Government has an ambitious plan to export more and to open up new markets.

We have established a new Trade Board, drawing on the best business expertise. We will also set up a new network of trade envoys – asking prominent and successful Scottish entrepreneurs to help boost national export efforts.

Following the result of the EU referendum, it is ever more important that the rest of Europe knows Scotland is still open for business. That’s why we will double the number of Scottish Development International staff working in Europe to support investment and trade opportunities for Scotland. We’re establishing an Investment Hub in Berlin and we will open one in Paris and Ottawa in autumn 2018 too, adding to our existing Investment Hubs in Dublin, London and Brussels.

This year, we will launch a new £20 million exports plan that will provide additional business support to ensure that more of Scotland’s world class produce and innovations are enjoyed across the globe, with the benefits realised here at home.

3. Scotland’s food and drink exports reached a record £6 billion in 2017 – almost £570 million more than 2016 and up 70 per cent on 2007.

Whether it’s Scottish salmon sold to seafood lovers in Japan or Scotch Beef served up in Italian restaurants – Scotland’s produce is being enjoyed the world-over.

In 2017 Scotch Whisky exports grew to £4.36 billion. And, single malt whisky exports reached almost £1.8 billion in the first half of 2017. In fact, according to research from the Scotch Whisky Association, whisky exports make the largest contribution to the UK’s balance of trade. The UK currently has a negative balance of trade – it imports more than it exports – and this gap would be 3 per cent wider without the contribution of Scotland’s whisky industry.


4.  If the UK is to leave Europe, we want the best deal for Scotland. That means a Norway-style deal that protects our ability to trade with Europe without extra charges or barriers.

Scotland exported £12.7 billion to the rest of the EU in 2016 – up by 28.9 per cent compared to 2007.

The importance of membership of the Single Market has been underscored by research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The FSB has found that one in three smaller businesses in the UK export – and that 92 per cent of these firms trade with the European Single Market.


5.  The value of exports by small and medium sized businesses increased by over 10 per cent between 2012 and 2016, to over £13 billion.

Through our enterprise agencies, the SNP in government is supporting small and medium sized businesses to access new markets and trade with the rest of the world.