Scotland business

Scotland's economy suffers fall of 0.1%

Welder at work
Image caption The fall in Scottish GDP in the final quarter of 2011 was less than the 0.3% drop in the UK as a whole

Scotland's economy shrank slightly in the final three months of last year, according to latest official figures.

GDP fell by 0.1%, compared with a drop of 0.3% for the UK as a whole.

Figures released by Scotland's chief statistician showed Scotland's economy grew by 0.5% in 2011.

Service industries grew during the year by 0.4% but the construction sector suffered a fall of 1.5% with a particularly steep decline in the final months of 2011.

In the final quarter, manufacturing output fell by 0.6%, driven largely by falls in metals, refined petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical products and food and tobacco.

The most significant increase in the quarter was in the engineering and allied industries sector.

The latest estimates of total growth showed that figures for the third quarter of 2011 were revised down from 0.5% to 0.4%.

Growth in the second quarter of last year was also revised down to zero from 0.2%.

Scottish exports

Meanwhile, the value of Scottish exports were unchanged during the fourth quarter of 2011.

The Index of Manufactured Exports showed that a rise in overseas sales from food and drink firms and engineering companies offset a fall in exports in the chemical and refined petroleum sector.

Responding to the figures, First Minister Alex Salmond said there were now positive indications in the Scottish economy, but there could be no room for complacency.

He argued that an injection of increased capital spending was now needed to "propel recovery forward".

Mr Salmond said he would be writing again to Prime Minister David Cameron with a list of £300m worth of "shovel-ready" projects across Scotland in a bid to boost growth and support jobs.

The first minister added it was "exactly the right time to re-present the compelling case for additional infrastructure investment to build sustained recovery".

Business organisation CBI Scotland said the GDP figures made for "sobering reading" and served as a "stark reminder" that Scotland's economic recovery continued to be a fragile process.

Director Iain McMillan said: "If nothing else, however, these figures show that Scotland's economy is by no means out of the woods yet, and that we cannot afford to be complacent.

"All levels of government must therefore continue to support growth by keeping costs for companies down, focusing on improving the business environment and investing in skills and infrastructure."

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