GDP rises

Gray on attack as economy returns to growth

Neil Gray
Neil Gray: ‘doing all we can’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray hailed the latest GDP figures while continuing to blame Westminster for “failing” to support the Scottish Government’s efforts to boost business investment.

The Scottish economy returned to growth in the third quarter of the year after dipping during the spring.

A 0.4% rise in gross domestic product (GDP) between July and September followed a 0.3% contraction from April to June.

The key services sector, which makes up about three-quarters of the GDP total, rose by 0.2%. Production rose by 1.8%, while construction increased by 0.1%.

“These figures show the robustness of the Scottish economy, despite the stiff headwinds faced by countries around the world,” said Mr Gray.

“We don’t under-estimate the seriousness of a cost-of-living crisis which continues to hamper household and businesses’ ability to spend, to the detriment of the wider economy.

“We are doing all we can with the limited powers available to us, including supporting business exports to produce increased international sales. As part of the Autumn Statement, Scotland needed a fair deal on investment for businesses, infrastructure and public services – the UK Government has failed to deliver on every count.

“Scottish businesses also continue to suffer due to Brexit’s effect on supply chains, trade and the free movement of people. I am not content with minimal growth levels for Scotland as part of the UK. 

“By focusing on developing equality, opportunity and community, an independent Scotland can build a fair, green and growing economy and match the performance of our European neighbours.”

The Scottish Government has helped businesses, working with enterprise agencies, export 335 new products and services in 2022/23 and tapping into 301 new markets. That support has resulted in £1.73 billion of planned international sales over the next three years – a 20% increase on the previous year.

Export figures for 2021 published yesterday show that Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK stood at £48.6 billion, or 61% of all Scotland’s exports. This dwarfed exports to every country in the EU combined, which totalled only 19% (£15 billion), while non-EU exports made up 20% (£16.3 billion).

Pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union said the official data “highlights the glaring holes in recent taxpayer-funded papers which failed to recognise the importance of the UK single market for jobs and livelihoods.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Being part of the UK is vital for jobs and livelihoods in Scotland. The rest of the UK is by far our biggest market, with significantly more trade with our closest neighbours than every single EU country combined.

“The SNP and the Greens’ continued push for us to leave the UK to join the EU simply makes no economic sense.

“From whisky and salmon to our manufactured goods and professional services, Scotland has extraordinary talent that is in high demand at home and abroad.

“We should be incredibly proud of that, but the nationalists want to put our reputation at risk and weaken our country.

“Rather than their negative vision for Scotland, we have a bright future ahead of us as part of the UK where we can focus on delivering economic growth for our nation, creating more opportunities for our businesses, and providing job security for the people of Scotland.”

New data on fish sales show that Scottish salmon accounted for £1.25 billion in the 12 months to September, making up nearly 30% of all fish bought in the UK.

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