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Trade figures released by the Scottish Government show exports with the rest of the UK accounted for 60 percent of trade north of the border. In comparison, the entire EU accounted for only 19 percent, while non-EU exports made up 21 percent.
The new data revealed exports to the rest of Britain totalled £52billion in 2019, an increase of £2.5billion (five percent) on the previous year.
Ministers say the increase to the rest of the UK was driven by a boost in electricity exports of around 33.6 percent (£1.8billion).
The services sector accounted for a £725million jump, the agricultural sector exported £1.1billion – an increase of £230million whilst manufacturing exports dropped by £350million.
Meanwhile, exports outside of the UK totalled £35.1billion, an increase of £1.1billion (3.4 percent).
The new trade data was published on Thursday
Scotland’s Trade Minister Ivan McKee
For international exports, £16.4billion was to the EU, an increase of £420million, while £18.7billion was outside the EU, an increase of £730million.
Exports to the EU increased due to a 33.9 percent jump in information and communication (£140million), 25 percent in transportation and storage (£185million) and 32.1 percent in pharmaceutical products.
Export increases outwith the EU were led by a 10.5 percent (£780million) jump in services exports while manufacturing sales dropped by 1.3 percent (£115million).
Unionist politicians claimed the data demonstrates why Scotland leaving the UK would be devastating for jobs and livelihoods even if a separate Scotland could rejoin the EU as pledged by the SNP.
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Trade with the rest of the UK was three times higher than international trade
Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative economy spokeswoman, said: “These figures are further proof of the enormous benefit Scotland derives from being part of the UK.
“Hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs are reliant on us being part of the Union, given that trade with the rest of the UK rose by £2.5billion on the previous year, to £52billion, and accounts for 60 percent of our total exports.
“It goes without saying that Scotland separating from its most important trading bloc would wreak huge economic damage – and yet that’s exactly the nightmare scenario the SNP, with their independence obsession, are hell-bent on creating.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, added: “These figures conclusively demonstrate the vital importance of remaining part of the UK.
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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack
“The rest of the UK is by far the most important trade market for Scotland, dwarfing every country in the EU combined.
The former Labour MP for Shotts added: “Whatever you think of Brexit, it’s clear that leaving the UK and seeking to rejoin the EU – which is far from guaranteed – would be catastrophic for jobs and livelihoods.
“Rather than build barriers with the SNP’s negative vision for a weaker Scotland, we have a bright future ahead of us as part of the UK, rebuilding our economy, keeping the pound, and maintaining positive relationships with our friends and neighbours.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The Scottish Government’s export figures show again that the rest of the UK remains by far Scotland’s most important market, with exports to England, Wales and Northern Ireland worth three times more than all EU countries combined.
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“Scottish international exports to non-EU countries are also up more than four percent since 2018, showing the enormous potential for Scottish businesses outside of the EU.
“As we continue to strike progressive new trade deals around the globe, we are unlocking export opportunities which will benefit Scotland and the whole UK.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These statistics for 2019 show a strong underpinning performance in Scotland’s exports before the twin economic shocks caused by the global pandemic and EU exit.
“The main driver for growth in exports to the rest of the UK was an increase in electricity exports, helping to keep the lights on in England and Wales.
“The figures provide further evidence of the importance of the EU to Scotland’s trade.
“The detrimental impact of the UK Government’s approach to our exit from the EU is evident in more recent HMRC trade statistics which showed that in the year to June 2021, Scotland’s goods exports to the EU were 25 percent down on the equivalent period in 2019.
“Through our Export Growth Plan, we remain focused on increasing Scotland’s international exports to 25 percent of GDP by 2029.”