Service sector leads the way as Scots exports soar

The value of Scotland's exports soared by hundreds of millions of pounds in just one year, a newly published survey has revealed.

Scottish international exports went up by 535 million to 21.1 billion during 2009, a rise mainly due to an increase in service-sector products sold overseas.

Service-sector exports rose by 710m during the same period, while there was a 310m combined increase in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and extraction of petroleum industry sectors.

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However, the figures also showed the manufacturing sector's exports declined by 450m.

Food and drink was Scotland's top exporting industry with a value of 3.6bn, while the second biggest was chemical products, which were worth 2.7bn.

Scotland's next three biggest exporters were business services, which accounted for 2.7bn, electrical and instrument engineering at 2bn) and the mechanical engineering sector valued at 1.5bn.

The figures, published in Scotland's Global Connections Survey for 2009, also showed the biggest export market was in the United States, where the value of Scottish products exported was 44.5bn, excluding the oil and gas sector. Scotland's top five export markets of the US, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium accounted for 9.0bn, or 43 per cent, of all products sold overseas.

The increase was welcomed by the Scottish Government. Enterprise minister Jim Mather said: "We are encouraged by increased exports in 2009, particularly as it is coincided with a very challenging time for the Scottish and global economy."