The figures, which follow the news that Scotland’s economy bounced back in the first three months of this year to avoid technical recession, come as a report today highlighted a “sharp improvement” in the Scottish labour market in June.
International trade secretary Liam Fox said: “These results are great news for Scotland. As world leaders across a range of sectors including life sciences, oil and gas and financial services, it’s great to see foreign investors recognising the country’s excellence.
“As an international economic department, the Department for International Trade (DIT) will continue to promote the UK as a whole to potential investors and support Scottish Development International to attract inward investment.”
UK government minister Ian Duncan added: “Scotland and the whole of the UK is continuing to be an attractive destination for foreign investment who are recognising that our skills and world-class industries are second to none. We want this trend to continue and see even more investment.”
The DIT said that UK-wide there was a 2 per cent rise in the number of projects to 2,265, but that the total number of jobs created or safeguarded as a result in 2016-17 fell 7 per cent to 108,000 from 116,000 in the previous year.
The figures are therefore likely to be seized on by both the Leave and Remain camps as evidence of the impact of the Brexit vote more than a year ago on Britain’s attractiveness as a business location.
The numbers from the DIT show that the US remains the biggest inward investor in the UK, accounting for 577 projects. China (including Hong Kong) remains in second place with 160 projects, while India, Australia and New Zealand are all in joint third place with 127 projects each.
Sectors particularly benefiting from an increase in projects included technology, renewable energy, life sciences and the creative industries.
In a further boost for the economy, June’s IHS Markit Report on Jobs for Scotland showed “steep growth in demand for both temporary and permanent staff”.
Scottish recruitment consultancies recorded a 42 per cent leap in the number of people placed in permanent jobs in June compared with May. Growth in demand for temporary staff was the strongest since late 2004.
On Wednesday, it emerged that the Scottish economy expanded 0.8 per cent in the first three months of 2017, four times the rate of UK GDP growth. Growth in Scotland had shrunk 0.2 per cent in the final three months of 2016 and two consecutive quarters of decline would have marked a technical recession.