Response to latest trade statistics
The latest HMRC Regional Trade Statistics further demonstrate the combined impact of COVID-19 and Brexit on Scotland’s trade.
However, I am pleased to see that while exports from Scotland’s onshore economy are down 5% over the past year, this compares favourably with a reduction across the rest of the UK of 14%, demonstrating the work done to support Scottish exporters through our export growth plan ‘A Trading Nation’.
The pandemic represents a worldwide challenge, but the figures also make clear that the UK Government’s decision to leave not just the EU but also the Single Market and Customs Union is imposing a significant additional burden on some Scottish businesses.
While food and drink exports to the EU recorded a fall of 12% over the year to March, this accelerated to 20% between January and March following the end of the EU transition period.
The statistics further support our call for the UK Government to re-engage in good faith with the EU and find pragmatic solutions to the blockages confronting businesses. Where these create additional new costs or obstacles, the UK Government needs to be honest about their impact and must provide additional financial support to help compensate businesses for the losses incurred as a direct result of Brexit.
We are using all the levers at our disposal to support exporters and build on Scotland’s global strengths as we renew our economy. The aims set out in A Trading Nation have not changed and we remain focused on growing the value of exports from 20% to 25% of GDP over the next 10 years.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism & Enterprise
The HMRC Regional Trade Statistics – first quarter 2021 are available online
The total value of Scotland’s goods exports for the year ending March 2021 decreased by 22% (£7.1 billion) to £25.6 billion compared with the previous 12 months. The UK overall recorded a 15% fall. Scotland’s decrease was driven by exports of oil and gas, down 46% (£6 billion).
Scotland’s annual goods exports to the EU decreased by 19% (£3.1 billion) to £13.1 billion. Oil and gas exports to the EU were down 35% (£3.1 billion) to £5.7 billion. EU exports of food dropped 11%, while drinks decreased by 12%. However, exports to the EU of machinery and transport equipment were up 16% and chemicals up 9%.
In the first quarter of 2021 Scotland’s goods exports to the EU decreased by 18% (£0.7 billion) to £3.1 billion compared with the same period in 2020. Oil and gas exports decreased by 32 per cent (£0.7 billion) to £1.4 billion, food by 27% and drinks by 13%. Exports of machinery and transport equipment rose by 15% and chemicals by 6%.