Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.

2.3 An evidence based approach

A Trading Nation uses an evidence based approach to identify where activity should be focused. This includes evidence in its widest sense – both quantitative and qualitative. The analysis behind this plan is the most detailed examination of Scotland’s international export performance alongside market opportunities ever undertaken by the Scottish Government.

The starting point was to examine and utilise the existing data that Scotland has on exports. 

The Export Statistics Scotland publication provides the most complete picture of exports from Scotland. This draws on a range of data sources, not least a direct survey of Scottish businesses through the Global Connections Survey. This data has been collected and published for the last 20 years but has never been used fully as a tool by business or government to identify export trends.

Scottish Government analysts in the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser (OCEA) have also used this data to create a more user friendly tool which will help businesses to interrogate the data more effectively. This tool, the Export Performance Monitor, was published online in November 2018.

The next stage of this work examined international data to identify potential opportunities to grow Scottish exports. This work used a range of data from sources such as UN Comtrade to identify Scotland’s performance compared to a range of comparator countries – Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Norway – across a range of market-sector combinations. The Office of the Chief Economic Adviser has built the export value gap tool from this work which highlights potential export opportunities to investigate for each sector in a range of countries. More information on the export value gap tool can be found in the methodology paper that goes alongside this plan.

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