Scottish exports to Europe plunge 25% post-Brexit

Scottish exports to Europe plunge 25% post-Brexit

Scottish exports to the EU fell by up to 25% two years after Brexit as trade with the rest of the UK rose, according to new figures from the Scottish Government.

The figures indicate that the value of Scotland’s exports has dropped by nearly £2 billion since the UK exited the UK from £16.950bn in 2019, to £14.970bn in 2021 – a 12% drop in two years.

It comes as exports to the rest of the UK rose by an almost equivalent amount - £1.89bn - from £46.695bn to £48.585bn.

The highest value drop in sales to the EU has come in the nation’s biggest export – refined petroleum products, coke, chemicals and chemical products which includes motor fuel. Exports dropped by £625 million to £2.48bn – a drop of 20%.

Scotland’s second biggest export to the EU was food products, beverages and tobacco products valued at £2.275bn in 2021 –- but there was a decline of £185 million on 2019. Around £180m of that fall was in exports to the EU of spirits such as whisky, brandy and gin, the Herald reports. 

The biggest percentage drop came in the export of rubber, plastic and other non-metallic chemical products, slumping by over a third (38.5%) from £670m to £410m. That was followed by 34.8% decline in the export of real estate activities from £80m to £50m and a 34.2% drop in transport equipment exports from £1.305bn to £860m.

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The world of international trade is where Scottish business belongs. If our economy is to grow then we must export more, it’s as simple as that.

“Firms that trade overseas grow faster, pay better, and are more resilient. If Scotland wants to remain a growing economy on par with global competitors, then we need more firms selling more goods and services internationally.

“The export statistics clearly indicate we need to look again at ways of improving trade with the EU. It remains our biggest trading partner, but firms continue to express huge frustration with the complexity and costs involved which go beyond what they face elsewhere.

“Trade is constantly developing and there are real opportunities for a global Scotland to explore new markets as technology advances, Net Zero takes hold and the geopolitical landscape shifts.

“If we all work together to take action and grasp opportunities then we can revitalise our exports growth and help power up the Scottish economy.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s international exports increased to over £31bn in 2021, showing the demand across the globe that exists for Scottish goods and services.

“We are working tirelessly to negotiate new trade deals, reduce trade barriers and open-up international markets to help these numbers grow further.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to encourage more businesses to take advantage of these opportunities.”

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