RISING demand for manufactured products helped Scotland’s international exports hit a record £27.9 billion in 2013, a report yesterday showed.
The official survey of industry, which excludes crude oil and gas, revealed that exports rose by £1.9bn during the year, up 7.2 per cent compared to 2012, with the US remaining the biggest overseas destination for Scottish goods and services.
Trade from Scotland to the rest of UK also rose, according to the latest Global Connections Survey from the Scottish Government.
It estimates exports to the rest of the UK totalled £46.2bn, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the year.
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “ The strong and reputable Scottish brand is driving up demand as our exporters continue to seize on the opportunities that exist in new and existing markets in their respective fields.
“Scotland’s economic recovery is now well established: our economy has grown continuously for two years, GDP is above pre-recession levels and the economic outlook is the strongest it has been for many years.”
Scottish Development International also welcomed the findings.
Chief executive Anne MacColl said: “This year’s Global Connections Survey confirms that appetite for Scottish products and services is at an all-time high.
“Despite mixed rates of economic growth and recovery in global markets, we continue to grow our exports in both mature and emerging economies with more and more Scottish businesses waking up to the international opportunity.”
More than 60 per cent of all international exports were attributable to manufacturing companies. At £16.8bn, the sector drove the overall growth with an increase of £1.3bn or 8.2 per cent over the year. Service sector exports grew by £590 million to £9.2bn.
The two largest exporting industries in 2013, as in previous years, were manufacturers of food and drink, worth £5bn, and makers of coke, refined petroleum and chemical products, at £3.5bn.
The US remained Scotland’s top international export destination country, as it has been in each of the last 11 years, receiving an estimated £3.9bn exports.
The Netherlands was the second-largest export destination country, receiving Scottish exports of £2bn, although that may be because it is home to key ports receiving goods destined to be freighted all over Europe.
Germany, France, and Denmark make up a top five of trade partners who receive more than 40 per cent of all Scotland’s international exports.
The survey also shows that just under half of international exports are destined for countries within the European Union.
MacColl added: “We’re on track to meet targets to grow Scottish exports by 50 per cent by 2017 and continue to work closely with our teams and partners, our overseas experts and Scottish businesses to drive forward Scotland’s international success.”