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Minister praises ‘strong growth’ as goods exports rise 19%

Exports have increased to £28.8 billion in a year, with oil and gas up by 46%.

Scottish goods exports have risen by nearly a fifth, with oil and gas the fastest rising, according to new figures.

Exports in 2017 rose to £28.8 billion – up 19% compared to the previous year. It was the highest rise out of any country in the UK and above the UK average of 13%.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown praised the “strong growth” revealed in the HMRC figures and said they show “confidence” is returning to the oil and gas industry.

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Economy Secretary Keith Brown (Danny Lawson/PA)

Countries outside the European Union account for more than half of all Scottish goods exported (51%) but this has fallen by 2% since 2016. EU countries take up 49%.

The increase in exports to the EU of about a quarter (24%) outstripped the rise to non-EU countries by 9% as the Netherlands overtook the US to become Scotland’s largest export partner in the year.

Exports to the Netherlands were among the largest value increase between 2016 and 2017, up 41% to £4,317 million followed by China, also up 41% by £2,228 million.

Norway and Saudi Arabia recorded the largest value decreases in Scottish goods exports in the same period, down £279 million (26%) and £131 million (30%) respectively.

Exports of petroleum, petroleum products and related materials grew fastest in the year, up by 46% – £2,695 million.

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Scottish goods exports (HMRC/PA)

“I’m sure many people in Scotland will be encouraged, as I was, by today’s statistics, which clearly show that Scotland’s exports industry is showing strong growth in spite of the looming shadow of Brexit,” Mr Brown said.

“These figures are positive – across a number of sectors and across a number of global markets.”

He added: “There was also welcome news for oil and gas, with the increase in exports clearly demonstrating that confidence is returning to that sector – which is, of course, one of Scotland’s most important industries.”

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