Scottish exports soar by nearly one fifth in UK high

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Scottish goods exports have risen by nearly a fifth, with oil and gas the fastest climber.

Exports in 2017 rose to £28.8 billion – up 19 per cent compared to the previous year.

Helicopters are regularly used to transport workers to North Sea oil rigs. Pic: SWNS

Helicopters are regularly used to transport workers to North Sea oil rigs. Pic: SWNS

It was the highest rise out of any country in the UK and above the UK average of 13 per cent.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown praised the “strong growth” revealed in the HMRC figures and said they showed “confidence” is returning to the oil and gas industry.

Countries outside the European Union account for more than half of all Scottish goods exported (51 per cent), but this has fallen by 2 per cent since 2016. EU countries take up 49 per cent.

The increase in exports to the EU of about a quarter (24 per cent) outstripped the rise to non-EU countries by 9 per cent as the Netherlands overtook the US to become Scotland’s largest export partner in the year.

Exports to the Netherlands were among the largest value increase between 2016 and 2017, up 41 per cent to £4.32bn followed by China, also up 41 per cent by £2.23bn.

Norway and Saudi Arabia recorded the largest value decreases in Scottish goods exports in the same period, down £279 million (26 per cent) and £131m (30 per cent) respectively.

Exports of petroleum, petroleum products and related materials grew fastest in the year, up by 46 per cent to £2.69bn.

“I’m sure many people in Scotland will be encouraged, as I was, by today’s statistics, which clearly show that Scotland’s exports industry is showing strong growth in spite of the looming shadow of Brexit,” Mr Brown said.

“These figures are positive - across a number of sectors and across a number of global markets.”

He added: “There was also welcome news for oil and gas, with the increase in exports clearly demonstrating that confidence is returning to that sector - which is, of course, one of Scotland’s most important industries.”

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