Scotland business

'Substantial challenges' see drop in Scottish exports

Cargo port Image copyright Getty Images

Scottish manufactured exports fell by 0.5% in the first three months of 2016, according to the latest figures.

Over the year, export volumes fell 2.1% compared to the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, separate figures showed the value of retail sales remained flat between April and June, with growth much lower than levels across the UK.

The number of retail sales rose 1% in Britain in the second quarter of 2016, but north of the border the rise was 0.2%

Business minister Paul Wheelhouse said the export figures showed Scotland's place within the European single market was "absolutely vital".

'Possible avenue'

He said: "These statistics remind us that Scotland's economy continues to face substantial challenges.

"Subdued global demand and the impact of a lower oil price environment have contributed to a drop in first quarter export volumes for companies working in several parts of the Scottish economy."

Mr Wheelhouse added: "While Scotland's economy is fundamentally strong, our continued EU status - and, thereby, our place in the world's biggest single market - is absolutely vital when it comes to promoting trade and protecting jobs, investment and long-term-prosperity, and this why we are committed to pursuing every possible avenue to maintain our place in the EU."

The figures showed a 3.3% increase in food and drink exports while the amount of textiles, clothing and leather goods sold abroad from Scotland went up by 2.1%.

The decline in exports was recorded ahead of the UK's vote for Brexit, which some economists have suggested could make British goods and services more attractive to overseas buyers as a result of falls in the value of the pound.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said the latest retail figures continued the recent "trend of effectively flat retail sales".

SRC head of policy and external affairs Ewan MacDonald-Russell said: "This comes against the backdrop of an industry going through an intense period of structural, economic and regulatory change.

"Retailers are responding to this environment by becoming more innovative and productive through investment in people, technology and more efficient logistics systems.

"However, that's difficult when facing weak retail sales, falling shop prices and rising government-imposed tax and regulatory costs.

"When the uncertainty resulting from the Brexit vote is also considered, it becomes clear just how hard it is on the high street right now."

Image copyright Thinkstock

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