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Exports provide £1.73 billion boost to Scotland’s economy

21 Aug 2023 • 3 minute read

Our export figures for 2022-2023 show Scotland's products and services remain in high global demand — find out why.

Trade results produced by Scottish Development International (SDI), the international arm of Scottish Enterprise, showed that support it provided to companies across Scotland in Financial Year (FY) 2022/23 will result in £1.73 billion 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. He said: “These latest results are very encouraging and show the high demand for Scottish products and services around the world." 

“International trade and investment are integral to 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," Minister Lochhead continued. "It's crucial that we continue to support businesses to secure significant trade opportunities and partnerships around the globe."

Growth in new international markets 

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.

The move into new markets was supported by SDI trade specialists based in more than 30 locations across the world, who tailored research about international markets and new opportunities – such as e-commerce – and forged introductions to key overseas buyers through 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 in their international growth over the past year."

Boosting trade in key sectors

SDI’s trade support focused on sectors where the country’s greatest export strengths currently lie – in consumer industries, science and technology, and energy and low carbon transition.

Scottish Store

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 and Drink Festival was held in Singapore in February to drive further awareness of the Scottish Store.

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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.

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Emergency One

Emergency One UK Ltd, a fire appliances manufacturer based in Cumnock, announced a contract with Hérault Fire Service to supply its innovative electric fire appliances and further the net zero goals of the French fire service. The export deal was supported by SDI.

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Global trade events: showcasing Scottish industry 

Meanwhile, SDI’s international teams facilitated global partnerships on behalf of Scottish industries and ensured that Scotland's very best was showcased at global trade events. 


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.

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Food and Hotel Asia (FHA)

In September, SDI hosted a delegation of 13 companies at Food and Hotel Asia (FHA), the continent’s largest food and drink trade event that brings together the global food and hospitality community.

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DeepWind and Wind'Occ

In May, SDI supported the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU)  between Scotland’s floating wind cluster DeepWind and Wind’Occ, a regional offshore wind collaborative in the Région Occitanie.

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In February, an 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.

Read about the SHFCA and HFCAS deal opens in a new window  

Scottish regions with global reach

Vicky Grant, Head of International Trade and Investment at Highlands and 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 2022-2023 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 other Team Scotland partners to continue to grow Scotland’s exports and contribute to the wellbeing of the country.”

Our focus on future expansion

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. We'll maintain an enhanced focus on Scotland’s distinctive economic strengths, working alongside businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and partners to seize new opportunities.

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