Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.

4.1 Choosing our priority sectors and countries

This plan makes use of robust analytical and qualitative data sets to enable decisions to be made around the key strategic choices identified earlier.

Evidence suggests that successful exporting countries specialise in a limited range of goods and services and make the overwhelming amount of their export earnings selling those goods and services to a limited number of countries. This pattern of trade is repeated throughout the world and Scotland is no exception, with our top 5 sectors accounting for 69% of our export value and the top 5 export destinations buying 44% of our goods and services.

An analysis of current export markets clearly shows European and North American markets dominate Scotland’s current export performance with these markets accounting for around 72% of total exports and the top 10 export destinations all being in these geographies.

However, given the rise of emerging markets, there are clearly some decisions to be made around the balance of focus between existing markets and potential high growth future markets.

One of the key outcomes of the of A Trading Nation will be a refocusing of government and agency effort towards supporting exports to countries and specific sectors that offer the most promising growth opportunities. We have taken an evidence based approach to this refocusing work, drawing on quantitative data from a range of sources. Qualitative data and feedback has also been used to challenge the countries and sectors highlighted by the data. Where a business chooses to export is a commercial decision for them but, from a public sector perspective, while we will always strive to support exporters, we need to align our export resources to where we think they will have the most impact.

In the analysis, we identified our priority countries and then our priority sectors. The analysis then looked at countries and sectors together to identify which sectors offer the best opportunities in which countries.

Back to top