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Exports provide significant boost to Scotland’s economy

Extensive trade support provided to Scottish companies

Scotland’s products and services remain in global demand after Scottish Development International’s (SDI) export figures for the last year were announced.

Trade results produced by SDI, the international arm of Scottish Enterprise, showed support it provided to companies across Scotland in FY22/23 will result in £1.73bn of planned international sales over the next three years, a 20% increase compared to FY21/22.

The figures, which combine projects supported by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise, were announced by Scottish Government Trade Minister Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said: “These latest results are very encouraging and show the high demand for Scottish products and services around the world.

“Despite the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and rising inflation, our companies – supported by Scottish Development International – have shown tremendous resilience and have continued to grow their exports, which resulted in this 20% increase from 2021/22 to £1.73bn of planned international sales over the next three years.

 “International trade and investment are integral in our efforts to expand our economy and create new long-term jobs as set out in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation and our Export Growth Plan – A Trading Nation.  It is crucial that we continue to support businesses to secure significant trade opportunities and partnerships around the globe.”

The figures showed that trade support provided by Scotland’s enterprise agencies enabled Scottish firms to enter 301 new markets in FY22/23, with a focus on the United States, Germany, China, Singapore and the UAE.  As part of this, 335 new products and services left Scotland for these markets last year.

In total, 960 individual companies in Scotland received trade support in FY22/23, accessing almost 5,000 instances of export assistance over the past year.  These included field office assistance from SDI trade specialists based in more than 30 locations across the world, tailored research about international markets and new opportunities such as e-commerce and introductions to key overseas buyers via the GlobalScot network.

Adrian Gillespie, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “These are excellent results and show how attractive Scottish products and services remain to global customers, based on our innovation, strong quality and the ambition of our companies to enter new markets.

“It has been a privilege for our dedicated trade specialists both here in Scotland and across the world to support Scottish businesses on their international growth over the past year.  International growth via exports is a key driver of productivity and to the wealth of the country. 

“We will continue a targeted approach and focus our trade activities on areas where we get the best results, such as the energy transition, science and technology, and the consumer industries.”

SDI’s trade support focused on sectors where the country’s greatest export strengths currently lie: Consumer Industries, Science and Technology, and Energy and Low Carbon Transition.  Examples of trade support included:

  • SDI partnered with Singapore’s largest e-commerce and online grocer, Lazada’s RedMart, to introduce the Scottish Store, which features more than 400 products from approximately 130 different Scottish brands. The initiative has significantly increased orders for brands from Scotland, and a Scotland Food & Drink Festival was held in Singapore in February to drive further awareness of the Scottish Store.
  • SDI hosted an inward trade delegation visit by BioSTL, a tech ecosystem from St Louis, Missouri, that allowed 11 Scottish healthcare and bio-tech startups to pitch their products and services.
  • Emergency One UK Ltd, a manufacturer of fire appliances based in Cumnock, announced a contract with Hérault Fire Service to supply its innovative electric fire appliances and further the net zero goals for the French fire service. The export deal was supported by SDI.

Meanwhile, SDI’s international teams facilitated global partnerships on behalf of key industries in Scotland and ensured the very best the country has to offer was showcased at global trade events.  This included:

  • In October, SDI led a delegation of 23 supply chain companies at ADIPEC, the world’s most influential gathering for industry professionals in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Last year’s event focused on supporting the energy transition to secure a sustainable future for the sector.
  • In September, SDI hosted a delegation of 13 companies at Food & Hotel Asia (FHA), the continent’s largest food and drink trade event that brings together the global food and hospitality community.
  • In May, SDI supported the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Scotland’s floating wind cluster DeepWind and Wind’Occ, the regional offshore wind collaborative in the Région Occitanie.  Meanwhile in February, a MoU was agreed between the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) and their Singaporean counterparts, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association of Singapore (HFCAS).  The MoU will see the organisations work together to promote mutually beneficial hydrogen and fuel cell technology and industry exchange and development.

Vicky Grant, Head of International Trade and Investment at Highlands & Islands Enterprise, said: “Highlands and Islands businesses that trade internationally continue to face challenging trading conditions, so these strong results from SDI are particularly encouraging and show positive signs of export recovery.  Companies in the region are actively looking to expand into new and existing markets worldwide, with a focus on the US, Germany and China.

“Our region’s businesses contribute significantly to the value of Scotland’s exports, which are dominated by sectors such as energy, aquaculture and whisky – sectors where the Highlands and Islands high quality products are internationally recognised.   

“Yet again, the region’s seafood sector was well represented at ‘Seafood Expo Global’ in Barcelona - an excellent platform to promote our delicious, high-quality Scottish seafood for global exports.

“We will continue to work with SDI and other partners to help our experienced exporters target new and existing markets, as well as supporting new and early-stage exporters to expand their international sales.”

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, added: “The SDI trade results for 2022/23 show an increasing demand for Scotland’s products and services, which is hugely encouraging for the country, including the South of Scotland.

 “It is pleasing to see energy and low carbon transition as one of Scotland’s key export strengths. With the South of Scotland having significant Natural Capital assets, this market presents significant opportunities for our people, businesses and communities.

 “South of Scotland Enterprise is committed to working with SDI and our other Team Scotland partners to continue to grow Scotland’s exports and contribute to the wellbeing of the country.”

As part of its International Operating Plan for FY23/24, SDI will continue its prioritised approach to help create future markets and develop capabilities in global opportunity areas.  SDI will apply an enhanced focus on Scotland’s distinctive economic strengths, working alongside businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and partners to seize new opportunities.

Contact Information

Notes to editors

  • International Export Sales is the expected companies’ international sales (e.g. to a particular market, as a result of a new product etc) as a result of a project that SDI/SE supported.  The estimated additional international exports are validated by the company at that stage and the measure is claimed. There is no minimal value for forecast export sales and the measure applies to companies at all levels of exporting from new exporters making their first sale to existing exporters moving into new markets.

About Scottish Development International (SDI):

  • Scotland’s global trade and investment agency and the international arm of Scottish Enterprise, SDI has offices in more than 30 locations in the world. These in-market specialists promote Scotland and its world leading products and services on a daily basis, delivering international economic opportunities for Scotland’s companies and communities.  For more information, please visit: