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Target in doubt as eurozone declines

Exports up 7.2% but figures do not account for slump in euro

Nicola SturgeonThe Scottish government said today that a 7.2% rise in exports shows the country is on track to meet its ambitious targets for raising the level of goods and services sold overseas.

However, the figure is for 2013 and does not account for a recent tightening in the important eurozone markets and a slump in the euro against the pound which will make exports more expensive.

The pound last week reached a seven-year high against the euro of €1.34.

The data shows a rise of £1.9 billion in goods and services sold to other countries to a record £27.9bn. But just under half of international exports are destined for countries within the EU (£12.9bn) which has suffered a sharp downturn.

Goods and services sold  to the rest of the UK increased by £1.2bn to £46.2bn.

 Scotland’s top five international exporting industries were:

• food and drink – £5 billion (18% of all exports)
• refined petroleum – £3.5 billion (12.6%)
• legal, accounting and business – £1.9 billion (6.7%)
• machinery and equipment – £1.7 billion (6.3%)
• electronic products – £1.6 billion (5.7%)

The USA remains the largest single country market for Scottish international exports with an estimated £3.9bn of goods, followed by the Netherlands (£2bn), Germany (£1.9bn) and France (£1.8n).

Speaking after meeting staff at Currie European Transport, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“These excellent figures show that we is on course to meet our stretching target to increase exports by 50% by 2017.

“The strong and reputable Scottish brand is driving up demand as our exporters continue to seize on the opportunities that exist in new and existing markets in their respective fields.

“Scotland’s economic recovery is now well established: our economy has grown continuously for two years, GDP is above pre-recession levels and the economic outlook is the strongest it has been for many years.”

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International said: “This year’s Global Connections Survey confirms that appetite for Scottish products and services is at an all time high.

“Despite mixed rates of economic growth and recovery in global markets we continue to grow our exports in both mature and emerging economies with more and more Scottish businesses waking up to the international opportunity.

” I am particularly pleased to see the pattern of steady export growth since the launch of Scotland’s International trade and investment strategy in 2010. Over these past three years exports have grown by a fifth, and that is significant.

“We’re on track to meet targets to grow Scottish exports by 50% by 2017 and continue to work closely with our teams and partners, our overseas experts and Scottish businesses to drive forward Scotland’s international success.”

Official GDP figures due out on Wednesday are expected to show that UK economic growth has returned to pre-financial crisis levels.

Estimates for output for the three months to December are expected to indicate that it was 2.8% higher than a year earlier.

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