52% of Scottish manufacturing exports now to EU. Tories struggle to make sense of anything



In only one year, Scottish manufacturing exports, including food and drink, to the EU countries, have risen to more than 50% of the total, further strengthening the case for continuing membership, to trade freely. International exports, excluding oil and gas, have risen by £1.9 billion to £32.4 billion with rUK and the USA the biggest customers.

The Scottish Tories have strangely argued that because 60% or £30 billion, of Scotland’s total exports go to the rUK, we need to remain in the UK. This is a remarkable notion that we have to stay in the UK to sell to other parts of it. Canada’s major customer is the USA but manages to maintain its independence despite that.

According to the BBC’s Douglas Fraser, in 2014, rUK’s ‘exports’ to Scotland amounted to more than £60 billion.


The Scottish Tories have yet to explain why rUk would not continue to accept Scottish exports tariff-free when they expect to sell twice as much back, tariff-free? Ask the manufacturers if they want a wall.

More from Insider today:

However, the key risk to Scotland’s economy continues to be the uncertainty associated with Brexit, and in particular the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

Scotland exported £48.9 billion in goods and services to the rest of the UK – a rise of £2.2 billion, with 60% of all Scottish exports going to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the figures for 2017 reveal. Scotland’s exports to the EU are worth £14.9 billion.

However, the highest rate of growth in 2017 was in exports to EU countries, up 13.3% to £14.9 billion – 46% of international exports in 2017 were to the EU. Exports to the rest of the UK also increased, up £2.2 billion (4.6%) to £48.9 billion.

Meanwhile, the updated GDP statistics, also published this morning, show that Scotland’s GDP grew by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018, and has increased in every quarter since the start of 2017.

Other key findings in the ESS publication show:

  • Total international and rest of the UK exports in 2017 (excluding oil and gas) are estimated at £81.4 billion, up £4.1 billion (5.2%) from the previous year.
  • The manufacture of food and beverages continues to be the largest industry for Scotland’s international exports.
  • International exports from the manufacturing sector increased by 10.3%, driven by strong growth in exports of refined petroleum and chemical products (up £915 million, 35.6%) and exports of computer, electronic and optical products (up £550 million, 41.1%).
  • Scottish exports to non-EU countries saw growth of 0.8% in 2017, increasing to £17.6billion.






3 thoughts on “52% of Scottish manufacturing exports now to EU. Tories struggle to make sense of anything

  1. Ludo Thierry February 1, 2019 / 6:10 pm

    Dr. Craig Dalziell over on CommonSpace has a good piece on these latest ESS (Export Stats Scotland) figures – short and very readable. Link and snippets below – He mentions some queries that readers have raised on John’s blog previously re. Ports of Exit, electricity exports and Fluffy’s Favourite 4X trade to rUK compared to EU (It’s official – it is now only 3X (estimated) on UK Govt’s own admission) :


    The civil servants working there take their political neutrality very seriously. They have, however, been described as “more opportunistic, but relatively powerless, statistical scavengers” who seek to better localise and improve upon data provided from a UK level.

    To this end, ESS has been developed in a way that solves or bypasses certain problems with UK stats. Particularly the oft-cited “English ports” problem – where Scottish goods exported via ports in England are claimed to count as English exports – is avoided entirely. The ESS stats are instead constructed by asking Scottish companies how much they export and where they export to. The route by which the exports reach their destination is irrelevant.

    The Destination of Scottish Goods

    This, perhaps more than the overall value of Scottish exports, is probably the hot-button topic when it comes to constitutional politics. The argument often raised is that the UK is a more important trade customer to Scotland as, for example, the EU is and therefore – so the argument goes – Scotland would be better to stick within the UK as it goes merrily on its “Global Britain” journey than we would by becoming independent and (re-)joining the EU.

    I noted in particular that Theresa May raised these statistics at PMQs yesterday in which she said that the value of exports to rUK was worth three times as much to Scotland as the value of exports to the EU.

    Her celebratory tone struck me as a bit odd as the Scotland Office has been telling us for some time now that rUK was worth four times as much than the EU.

    As it turns out, that ratio of rUK to EU exports WAS four times as much back in 2010 but it has been steadily declining since. That ratio dropped from 3.57 in 2016 to 3.29 in 2017, so that the broad rounding up to “four” could no longer be used.

    The UK’s economy has grown more slowly than elsewhere and is simply becoming less important to the Scottish exporting economy. Exports to the rUK dropped slightly overall in 2017 but this was more than offset by growth in trade to the rest of the world both EU and non-EU. The trend in the UK appears to continue the trend started in 2008 and in the wake of the financial crisis and subsequent austerity policies. The UK’s economy continues to contract in on itself as those policies focus more and more on London and the South-East at the expense of everywhere else.

    The UK is, of course, a very important customer in other respects. Wholesale and retail food, Agricultural products and utilities like electricity, water and gas rank highly in terms of Scottish exports to the rest of the UK. This should be considered very carefully by those who threaten, hint or suggest that these industries may be under threat should Scotland become independent, as these are products that the rest of the UK is particularly reliant on. Scotland exported £5 billion worth of utilities to rUK in 2017 – much of which will have been electricity. It is difficult to see where rUK would go to replace this trade should it decide to be difficult in independence negotiations as the current electrical interconnectors to Ireland and Europe are already running more or less at capacity. Threat to food supplies are worrying enough in the context of Brexit without compounding this with misguided and mildly jingoistic statements levelled at Scotland’s trade.


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