Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.

1.1 Why exports are important

In the modern interconnected and interdependent world, nations that export and trade internationally do better across all economic indicators.

Access to international markets drives business performance and scale and facing international competition drives business innovation and productivity growth. Without exporters the ability for Scotland’s economy to grow would be constrained. Economic growth is critical to driving job opportunities and higher living standards as well as the tax receipts critical for the delivery of the public services that are so important to the country. This is particularly true under the current fiscal settlement for the Scottish Government. It is for all these reasons that driving the internationalisation of the Scottish economy and increasing the value of exports is so important.

Evidence indicates that there is a strong correlation between exporting and innovation. Innovative businesses are more likely to export and the experience of exporting can also be a strong driver of investment in innovation and R&D as businesses compete in new markets. We also know that businesses and economies operating across a range of markets will tend to be more resilient and less vulnerable to economic shocks.

Figures from ONS and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy suggest that businesses that export, while only being 3% of the business base in Scotland, account for 60% of UK annual productivity growth and are, on average, 70% more productive than businesses that don’t export.

If we are to be a successful nation it is important for Scotland to grow its international profile and presence. Scotland has a lot to offer and international trade forms an important mechanism through which Scotland can enhance its place in the world. A Scotland that is confident and outward facing can showcase its strengths and capability through trade and the exchange of ideas and people. Building international relationships and a reputation as a good global citizen through trade also enables Scotland to exert a positive influence on our international partners.

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