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Small Business Survey Scotland: 2017

Sets out the findings for Scotland of the Small Business Survey 2017.

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3. Trade activities

International exports

This section relates to exports to countries outside of the UK only.

14 per cent of SMEs in Scotland reported that they had sold goods or services (including commissions, royalties and licences) outside of the UK in the last 12 months, broadly in line with the figure in 2016 (16 per cent). In the UK as a whole, a higher proportion of SMEs (20 per cent) had exported goods or services in the last 12 months, broadly in line with the figure in 2016 (18 per cent).

The likelihood of exporting increased with business size. Both small (19 per cent) and medium-sized businesses (39 per cent) were more likely than average to export.

Exporting was most common in the Information/Communication (32 per cent) and Manufacturing (30 per cent) sectors. Exporting was least common in the Construction sector (two per cent) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Exports by sector, 2017

Base: all SME employers, 739 - Base minimum: Information/Communication, 28

Don’t know: 1% of SMEs

Figure 1: Exports by sector, 2017

In Scotland, the proportion of SME exporters exporting to European Union ( EU) countries (70 per cent) and non- EU countries (71 per cent) was broadly similar. In the UK as a whole, a higher proportion of SME exporters exported to EU countries (79 per cent) than non- EU countries (67 per cent).

18 per cent of SME exporters in Scotland exported to EU countries only. A higher percentage of SME exporters in the UK as a whole exported to EU countries only, at 27 per cent.

The majority of SME exporters in Scotland (76 per cent) were established exporters, exporting for more than five years. 20 per cent had been exporting for five years or less [12] .

Almost half (41 per cent) of SME exporters in Scotland reported that exports accounted for up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover. Eight per cent of SME exporters reported that exports accounted for more than 90 per cent of their annual turnover.

Of those SMEs that were already exporting, 61 per cent planned to increase their level of exports over the next few years. Of those SMEs that were not currently exporting to countries outside the UK (86 per cent), the majority (97 per cent) reported that they had no plans to start exporting. Of those SMEs that were not exporting and had no plans to start, the majority (83 per cent) believed their goods/services were not suitable for exporting.

Exports to the rest of the UK

This section relates to exports to the rest of the UK only.

31 per cent of SMEs in Scotland reported that they sold goods or services to the rest of the UK (i.e. England, Wales and Northern Ireland), lower than the proportion in the prior year (44 per cent). Medium-sized firms (50 per cent) were more likely than average to have exported to the rest of the UK.

By sector, SMEs in Information/Communication (85 per cent), and Manufacturing (58 per cent) were more likely than average to have sold goods or services to the rest of the UK. Whereas, SMEs in Construction (15 per cent) and Other Services (seven per cent) sectors were less likely than average to have sold to the rest of the UK.

Imports

19 per cent of SMEs in Scotland had directly imported goods or services from countries outside the UK in the previous 12 months, broadly in line with the proportion in the UK as a whole (21 per cent) and with the proportion in Scotland in the prior year (17 per cent). Medium-sized businesses (32 per cent) were more likely than average to import.

16 per cent of SMEs in Scotland had directly imported goods or services from the EU whilst 11 per cent had imported from non- EU countries. These proportions are broadly similar to those in the UK as a whole.

Contact

OCEABusiness@gov.scot

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