Rising demand saw a record high of £27.9billion worth of Scottish goods and services exported in 2013, according to the latest figures.
The Scottish Government’s Global Connections Survey found that this was a 7.2%, or £1.9billion, increase on 2012.
The country’s largest exporting sectors over the year were food and drink (£5bn), and manufacture of coke, refined petroleum and chemical products (£3.5bn), while crude oil and gas figures were excluded from the statistics. The remainder of the top five comprised of legal, accounting and business (£1.9bn), machinery and equipment (£1.7bn) and electronic products (£1.6bn). These five sectors accounted for around 49% of the country’s total exports.
Over 60%, or £16.8billion, of all international exports were attributable to companies in the manufacturing sector, marking an increase of 8.2%, or £1.3billion. While the service sector accounted for £9.2billion, or 33.1% – an increase of £590million.
The USA remained the largest single-country market for Scottish exports for an 11th consecutive year, with an estimated £3.9billion of goods. It was followed by the Netherlands, Germany and France. Just over half of the international exports were destined for countries within the EU, with a total value of £12.9billion.
Exports from Scotland to the rest of the UK also saw a £1.2billion increase over the previous year, standing in 2013 at £46.2billion.
Commenting on the report, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These excellent figures show that we are 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.”
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.”
Figures from the 2014 Global Connections Survey will be published by the Scottish Government in January 2016.