Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.

1.3 Scotland's export performance

Scotland’s international exports(5), excluding oil and gas, have grown at an annualised rate of 3.1% since 2002. Since 2007 that rate has increased to 4.7% compared to a UK rate of 4.4%.


Scotland's International Exports Chart

Source: Export Statistics Scotland 2017

When considering exports as a % of GDP and against the performance of our international competitors, however, Scotland’s performance is not so encouraging.

Exports as a percentage of GDP - Small Advanced Economies

Source: World Bank and Quarterly National Accounts Scotland

The chart above shows that Scotland has considerable potential to increase exports as a percentage of GDP to match the performance of other medium sized economies. Even including trade with the rest of the UK (rUK,) Scotland still lags behind many comparable nations on this key measure. Scotland lags all countries in this comparison when trade with rUK is excluded.

Scotland’s performance on this key measure has been broadly flat over the past 20 years. The growth in the value of Scotland’s exports has simply been keeping pace with growth in the economy as a whole.

Export Percentages GDP - Small Economies Chart

Source: World Bank and Quarterly National Accounts Scotland

There is no doubt that Scotland’s economy has the potential to internationalise and match the performance of other comparable nations. Scotland’s inherent strengths in a number of sectors underpin this potential. This plan for export growth sets out to understand what needs to be done to enable this performance improvement and maps out the actions required to deliver it.



(5) Export Statistics Scotland. Excludes Oil and Gas from the UK continental shelf

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