Scotland business

'Mixed picture' for Scottish exports

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An increase in sales to the rest of the UK helped to boost overall exports from Scotland in 2014, according to official estimates.

Total exports, excluding oil and gas, rose by 0.8% to £76bn.

Sales to the rest of the UK climbed by 3.2% to £48.5bn, lifted by increases in the service sector (+£1.8bn) and manufacturing (+£20m).

However, overseas exports dropped by 3.2% to £27.5bn, following a sharp fall in sales from manufacturing businesses.

Food and drink exports were also estimated to have fallen by £250m to £4.8bn, with whisky exports alone dropping by 7% over the year to £4bn.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the figures showed a "mixed picture".

Image caption Source: Export Statistics Scotland 2014

According to Export Statistics Scotland estimates, the USA continued to be Scotland's top export destination, with an estimated £4bn worth of goods and services sold.

This was followed by Netherlands (£1.9bn), France (£1.9bn) and Germany (£1.8bn).

The top 10 export destinations accounted for 54% of total international exports.

The largest overseas exporting industry was food and drink, which accounted for £4.8bn, or 17.3%, of all exports.

In 2014 services accounted for 56% of all rest of UK exports, compared with 38% of international exports.

Top five industry groups for exports to rest of the UK in 2014:

* Financial and insurance activities (£7.4bn)

* Wholesale, retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (£6.6bn)

* Utilities (£4.8bn)

* Manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco (£4bn)

* Legal, accounting, management, architecture, engineering, technical testing and analysis activities (£3.5bn).

Reacting to the figures, Mr Swinney said: "There was a fall in exports to Europe in 2014, with both a weak pace of recovery across the EU and the relatively strong value of sterling combining to make it more challenging for Scottish firms.

"The EU is still our largest international export region, with exports of £11.6bn from Scotland in 2014, 42% of all our international export sales.

"Manufacture of food and drink continues to be our top export sector, accounting for £4.8bn of exports. Excluding whisky, exports from the manufacture of food and drink sector increased by 8% to £815m in 2014.

"International exports from Scotland have now increased by 17.3% since 2010, more than the 15.9% increase for the UK as a whole."

He added: "Our new Trade and Investment Strategy, which will be published shortly, will set out a clear approach to boosting exports further, increasing the number of exporting companies and attracting new investment to Scotland."

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