When I posted on the fact that Scotland’s export business does not depend on the UK as had been claimed by Alistair Darling (https://darlingblogs.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/no-what-youre-voting-for-part-1/), one of the questions I was asked what export business Scotland has.
In the BBC today I noticed the Headline ‘Global Connections Survey: Exports rise by £1.6bn’ lurking at the bottom of Scottish section (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-21161116). Today the Scottish Government released the Global Connections Survey which presents the figures for Scottish exports in 2011 (full report here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0041/00412570.pdf), which showed that exports were up to record highs to both the rest of the UK and also to the rest of the world. Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK showed a value of £45.5billion and to the rest of the world they were up to £23.9billion (a £1.6billion increase on 2010 which is what the headline relates to).
It is worth noting that none of these exports account for oil – which is good because I’ll treat that separately in the future as well. A full breakdown of the exports to the rest of the world and rUK are shown in the Global Connections Survey, with the top 5 export sectors to the rest of the world being:
- Food and beverages (£4.2bn)
- Manufacture of coke, refined petroleum and chemicals (£3.7bn)
- Computer, electronic and optical products (£1.4bn)
- Financial and insurance activities (£1.4bn)
- Mechanical engineering (£1.4bn).
When you combine the various exports listed Scotland’s export value in 2011 was £69.4billion, and performing a quick calculation on that (with an exchange of £1=$1.58 and a Scottish population of 5.25m) shows that Scottish Exports Per Capita are $20,886. This would put Scotland in the top 10 performing countries in the world showing that we have a very healthy export economy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports_per_capita). And remember, this doesn’t include any oil.
A surprising aspect from the figures presented today is that the percentage of our total export to the rest of the UK is 65.6%, which is smaller than Canada’s export to the US which sits at 73.7%. It is argued by the UK government that Scotland’s export to the UK exists because we are all governed by Westminster but clearly Canada achieves a higher proportion of export trade with the US despite being fully independent from it.
I believe the best type of government will combine social values with sound business awareness. When I attended the SNP Spring Conference in 2011 I was pleased to hear about the efforts that the Scottish Government were putting into our Food & Agriculture sector. A specific target was set to grow this export business, ensuring that our wealth of fertile land is used to positive effect; keeping our bodies and economy healthy in parallel. Unfortunately these positive measures and acts of government do not command much attention in the media.
So we have a good base to start from should we vote Yes in 2014 but there are still significant opportunities for Scotland to improve. Scotland has a surplus of energy from our existing infrastructure, and the potential to create an energy surplus entirely from renewable energy creating export opportunities. We have a surplus of fresh water (a natural resource that will almost become even more critical than oil over the next 100 years) which in itself creates further export opportunities. We have a wealth of fertile land where we can grow our own consumption of locally produced high quality food products but the export potential will continue to grow for this. I firmly believe that to achieve the maximum potential here we will need to have full control of our taxation and budget to ensure we move in an efficient manner.
The fact that many people in Scotland think that we have no industry, and associate our social problems with this perception, demonstrates the gross failing of our current system. Scotland has a healthy and diverse economic wealth – it is time that was reflected in our overall standard of living and the health of our society.