Scots trade falls 22%
McKee demands ‘pragmatic’ EU talks as exports slump
Ivan McKee: UK Government needs to be honest (pic: Terry Murden)
Scottish Business Minister Ivan McKee has called on the UK government to “re-engage in good faith” with the EU after new figures showed a severe slump in Britain’s global exports in a year impacted by Covid-19 and Brexit.
He called for “pragmatic solutions” to the ongoing Brexit border blockages and further compensation for businesses that are losing sales.
The total value of Scotland’s goods exports for the year ending March 2021 plummeted by 22% (£7.1 billion) to £25.6bn compared with the previous 12 months, according to the latest HM Revenue & Customs figures.
This was a sharper slump than for the UK overall which suffered a 15% fall. Scotland’s decrease was driven by lower exports of oil and gas, down 46% (£6bn).
Scotland’s exports to the EU fell by 19% (£3.1bn) to £13.1bn. Oil and gas exports to the EU were down 35% (£3.1bn) to £5.7bn. Exports of food dropped 11%, while drinks decreased by 12%.
Trade has slumped in the past year
However, Mr McKee said the Scottish Government’s work to support exporters was demonstrated in a 5% fall in exports from Scotland’s onshore economy against a 14% fall for the rest of the UK.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“These 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.
“The Scottish Government is using all the levers at its 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.”
Amazon helps SMEs
Amazon said Scottish SMEs selling on Amazon recorded more than £90 million in export sales in 2020.
Its latest report showed that 3,000 Scottish SMEs now sell professionally on Amazon’s stores, with around 450 in Edinburgh generating £20m in export sales in 2020, and 600 in Glasgow racking up over £19.5m last year.
The UKs 65,000 SMEs selling on Amazon have recorded more than £3.5 billion in export sales in 2020.