A Trading Nation: progress review 2022

Three years into the delivery of our 10 year export growth strategy, A Trading Nation (ATN), our strategy remains firmly focused on the recovery and growth of Scotland’s exports through values-based trade. This review documents our progress and delivery so far.

1. Ministerial foreword

We are now three years into delivering our 10 year Export Growth Strategy, A Trading Nation (ATN), which sets our strategic direction for growing Scotland's exports: the priority countries we want to focus on; the priority sectors that offer the biggest opportunity; and how we will support businesses to maximise their export growth potential.

As with any long-term strategy, it is important that we continue to assess both progress towards our strategic objectives, and what has changed within the wider environment. To assist us in that assessment, the Scottish Government's Trade Board provides the mechanism to bring the voice of business into the heart of that process. Drawing on the views of exporters across various sectors and scale of companies, the Trade Board helps us to assess delivery of ATN to date and the opportunities to grow Scotland's exports in the future. In 2022 we refreshed the membership of the Board.

Since ATN first launched, there have been unprecedented challenges in the economy. The Covid-19 pandemic and Scotland's forced exit from the European Union (EU) have significantly impacted Scotland's trading environment. In spite of these challenges recent data highlights that Scotland is performing well compared to the rest of the UK in terms of exports. In fact, Scotland is the only part of the UK with a positive trade balance in goods with the Rest of the World, exporting £2.2bn more goods than it imported in 2021. This is critical to Scotland's economic strength both now and in the future, and underpins the significance of our work set out in ATN to support Scotland's export performance. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of Team Scotland who have worked hard to deliver these results.

Our strategy remains firmly focused on the recovery and growth of Scotland's exports through values-based trade and our trading relationships with the EU remain central both now and in Scotland's future, with 9 out of our top 15 markets identified in ATN being in the EU.

Since publishing ATN, we have built on our ambitions for the internationalisation of Scotland's economy through our Vision for Trade, Inward Investment Plan and Global Capital Investment Plan. These strategies seek to set out the strategic direction for how Scotland can maximise trade and investment opportunities to develop a Scottish economy with inclusivity and wellbeing at its centre, and support our climate change targets.

In March 2022 we published our National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) which reaffirmed the Government's commitment to export growth through delivering the actions within ATN. As we move into this next phase of ATN delivery there is much more to be done and we want to create the right conditions and provide the right support to do that.

We will continue to take an evidence based approach on what works, working with our agencies and businesses to target support on the markets, sectors and types of export support that will best drive Scotland's export growth. With our partnership approach to the delivery of ATN, we will continue to provide business with access to the type of expert advice and support that they tell us is essential to for them to compete in international markets. It is businesses, with the support of Government, that will deliver the export growth that will really make a difference to the Scottish economy.

We are clear about the kind of country that we want Scotland to be, with strong principles to guide how we do business around the world so that people, businesses and other Governments know who we are and what we represent as a nation. We want Scotland to be a successful trading nation, but we want to be known as much for how we trade as for what we trade — our economy, our people and the planet require it.

Ivan McKee MSP

Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise


Email: exportplan@gov.scot

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