Scotlands exporters on track to hit 2017 target

Scotlands exporters on track to hit 2017 target

This year’s Global Connections Survey confirms that appetite for Scottish products and services is at a high – so how can we capitalise on this?

Scotland’s exports in 2013, excluding oil and gas, were £27.9bn, an increase of £1.9bn on the previous year. Among the key findings are £16.8bn (60.2%) of all exports are attributable to manufacturing sector companies, an increase of £1.3bn (8.2%) over the year, while £9.2bn (33.1%) is attributable to the service sector, an increase of £590m (6.8%) over the year.

Anne MacColl, chief executive officer of Scottish Development International, said: “The 2013 figures tell us there has been an increase of 7.2% in exports. That’s a very healthy increase and it shows that we are still on track to achieve the 50% increase in exports that we set ourselves as the target by 2017.”

Drilling down, over the last four years, exports from Scotland have increased by a fifth.
“That’s very encouraging news. Scottish goods, products and services have their place in the world. They are well received and they are growing in popularity and that should paint a positive picture for companies in particular who are thinking about exporting for the first time.”

The market in Scotland is small and 99.7% of market opportunities lie outside of Scotland. Almost half of Scotland’s exports come from five particular industries. Two of them, manufactured food and drink (£5bn, 18% of all exports) and petrochemical and refining industries (£3.5bn, 12.6% of all exports) have been doing well.

Food sales have been doing well, but after this top two, Scotland is strong in business services, machinery and equipment, and electronic products.

These top two sectors are followed by legal, accounting, management, architecture, engineering, technical testing and analysis (£1.9bn), manufacture of machinery and equipment (£1.7bn) and manufacture of computer, electronic & optical products (£1.6bn).

The United States remains Scotland’s top export destination (as in the last 11 years) with an estimated £3.9bn exports, an increase of £185m (5%) since 2012. Netherlands was second with exports of £2bn, increasing by £55m (3%), Germany third, estimated to be worth £1.9bn, increasing by £195m (11%) since 2012. After this is France, with £1.8bn, and Denmark with £1.4bn. Also in the top ten were Norway (£1.1bn), Belgium (£1bn), Eire (£920m), Spain (£870m) and Italy (£745m).

“The key message around this and the way we handle this is to look very carefully at what we do well, not sector by sector but sub-sector by sub-sector. In Singapore, for example, we see an opportunity for water and waste efficiency companies in Scotland to develop a real offering there. The trick is to look at the industries in Scotland that are doing well and could do even better in the export markets.”

Ms MacColl said Scottish businesses need to continue to grow their ambition, confidence, and their credible offer to the world.

The figures also looked at exports to the rest of the UK. However, the report said: “Rest of UK exports estimates should be treated with some caution. It is more difficult to ascertain the final destination of sales within the UK as companies have no statutory requirement to collate financial information below UK leveI.”

Furthermore, particular sectors face challenges in determining what constitutes an ‘export’. In an Intra-UK situation, this is particularly the case in the service sector where output is harder to quantify and the residence of the final consumer may be less clear.

Rest of UK exports in 2013 (excluding oil and gas) are provisionally estimated at £46.2bn. The combined value of international and rest of UK exports in 2013 (excluding oil and gas) are provisionally estimated at £74.1bn.

Rest of UK exports account for 62% of all exports (International and rUK combined) from Scotland Service sector exports to the rest of the UK, and are of greater importance than for exports alone. 26.2% (£12.1bn) of UK exports are attributable to manufacturing sector companies and (51.4%) £23.7bn are attributable to service sector companies.

This compares to 60.2% for manufacturing and 33.1% for service for international exports. The five largest industry groups for rest of UK exports were: service finance and insurance (£7.9bn); utilities (£5.6bn);  services wholesale & retail trade, repair of motor vehicles (£4.8bn); manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco (£4.3bn); and mining and quarrying (£2.8 bn).

The Global Connections Survey is the only exports survey covering all sectors of the Scottish economy, including goods and services.