Oil & gas bonus

Scotland and Northern Ireland lift exports to EU

Buzzard oil well
Oil and gas was a big contributor to export data

Scotland has increased its share of exports to the EU as oil and gas sales helped lift the gloom around Brexit.

Exports to the EU from Scotland leapt to 59% from 50% before the pandemic, while Northern Ireland’s share of exports to Europe was the highest of any nation or region, rising to 64% from 59%.

The Scotland and Northern Ireland figures increased the overall UK share of manufacturing exports to the EU to 52%, from 50% in 2019.

However, much of the increase was attributed to a jump in the value of Scottish oil and gas exports after Russia’s war in Ukraine propelled wholesale prices.

Trade organisation Make UK, which collated the data with BDO, said the uplift for Northern Ireland was due to an increase in tariff-free trade across the land border in Ireland following the Northern Ireland protocol. 

“This [rise for the UK] was a result of sharp increases in the share of exports to the EU from Northern Ireland and Scotland over the same period, without which the overall UK share of goods exports would also be on a downward trend,” the report said.

“Furthermore, given the share of goods exports to both Asia and Oceania and North America has remained relatively stable at around 16% since 2019, this would indicate that UK manufacturers are looking at opportunities outside their traditional big three markets.”

London and the southeast and the east of England have increased their share of goods exports to the EU since 2019 while all other English regions and Wales have suffered falls. Welsh goods and services shipped to the bloc fell to 56%, from 61% in 2019.

The southwest’s share of goods exports to the EU was the lowest of all regions last year at only 42%, followed by the West Midlands, at 45%.

Richard Austin, head of manufacturing at BDO, the accountancy specialist that jointly conducted the research, noted that Brexit was still having an overall negative impact on the sector.

“Manufacturers have warned that the shackles of red tape, supply chain pressures and rising costs are at risk of permanently undermining the competitiveness of UK goods,” he said.

Separate data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) last month that showed Britain endured the worst exports record of any member of the G7 besides Japan over the last decade.

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