Scotland’s international export performance : some recent evidence

Slow, Jonathan and Turner, Stewart and Richmond, Kenny (2015) Scotland’s international export performance : some recent evidence. Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 39 (2). pp. 91-100. ISSN 2046-5378

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This paper outlines the latest data and evidence on Scotland’s export performance and highlights key changes over the past decade. Exporting, for the purposes of this paper, is defined as sales to overseas markets. Scotland’s international exports have changed significantly over the past 10 years. The overall nominal value of international sales has grown since 2005 but the number of exporting businesses has declined, with the result that Scotland’s exports are increasingly reliant on the performance of fewer firms. The sectoral composition of Scottish exports has also changed significantly: in manufacturing, the main change has been from electronics to food & drink and chemicals. Additionally, the overall contribution of Services exports, such as financial and business services, has been important. Developed economies, particularly the EU and US, are Scotland’s largest export markets with emerging economies beginning to comprise a larger proportion of Scottish exports, albeit from a low base. A key factor in raising Scottish exports from current levels will be to increase the number of exporting businesses. Evidence suggests only a very small number of non-exporting businesses (3%) plan to start exporting. However, for example, if Scotland had an export rate similar to that of the UK there would be an additional 2,500 exporting businesses.