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Why is this National Indicator important?
If we are to deliver improved productivity and sustainable economic growth, we will need to place greater emphasis on exports. The Scottish economy is already open to world markets, however, further integration with the world economy offers Scotland a greater opportunity to tap into new and larger markets around the world, giving increased access to capital flows, new technology, cheaper imports and larger export markets.
The deterioration in global economic conditions during 2008 resulted in a sustained fall in global demand and in the volume of world trade, with Scotland's main export destinations experiencing falls in output in 2008. Prior to the onset of the global downturn Scotland's export growth performance had been mixed, with growth slightly less than the growth in GDP. Between 2002 and 2007, the main source of export growth has been the rest of the UK, with international exports experiencing a slight decline over this period.
The indicator measures the growth in the value of goods and services that Scotland exports to other countries, including the rest of the UK, compared with the growth in overall GDP.
What will influence this National Indicator?
The success of Scottish exports reflects the competitiveness of Scottish companies, their links to world markets and world economic conditions. The Scottish export market has faced challenging conditions over the past five years. The manufacturing sector, particularly electronics, was heavily exposed to a global economic slowdown between 2000 and 2003. In addition, increasing global competition has seen many low cost producers relocating manufacturing activity to the lower cost economies of Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
What is the Government's role?
Scottish Development International (SDI) supports companies in Scotland to do more business overseas. This includes helping them develop export strategies and increase the export of goods and services. But it goes beyond that. A significant proportion of SDI activities are linked to increasing Scottish manufactured exports, because of the focus on Scotland's priority industries (in particular, electronic markets and food and drink). And SDI's focus on companies with high growth potential means that international support often features strongly.
How are we performing?
In 2008, GDP growth was 2.9% and exports grew by 0.1%, therefore the gap was -2.8 percentage points. In 2009, GDP growth was 0.1%, whereas exports grew by 4.6% therefore the gap was 4.5 percentage points, indicating an improvement of the position compared with the difference of -2.8 percentage points observed for 2008.
Please note that the GDP growth figures presented here are in current prices (not deflated) so that they can be compared to the exports growth figures on the same basis. These figures should not be used to describe real year-on-year GDP growth, where a deflated index would be more appropriate.
Source: Scottish Government, Office for National Statistics (ONS), Global Connections Survey
Note: The Global Connections Survey methodology incorporates new information into the export analysis which often reflects improvements made possible by the availability of additional years' survey responses. Therefore, previously published estimates are subject to revisions.
View data on exports growth
This evaluation is based on: any difference in the gap within +/- 0.1 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change (where the gap is calculated as exports growth rate minus GDP growth rate). An increase in the gap of 0.1 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 0.1 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Statistics Topic Page
Who are our partners?
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Scottish Development International
Related Strategic Objectives
Wealthier and Fairer