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This page relates to the 2007 version of the National Performance Framework. Information about the current version of the NPF is available on the Scotland Performs Home Page.

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Current Status

In 2009, GDP growth was 0.1%, whereas exports grew by 4.6%. The gap was +4.5 percentage points, compared with the difference of 5.5 observed for 2007.

More on export growth

National Indicator


Grow exports at a faster average rate than GDP

Grow exports at a faster average rate than GDP

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Why is this National Indicator important?

If we are to deliver improved productivity and sustainable economic growth, we will need to place greater emphasis on exports. The Scottish economy is already open to world markets, however, further integration with the world economy offers Scotland a greater opportunity to tap into new and larger markets around the world, giving increased access to capital flows, new technology, cheaper imports and larger export markets.

The deterioration in global economic conditions during 2008 resulted in a sustained fall in global demand and in the volume of world trade, with Scotland's main export destinations experiencing falls in output in 2008. Prior to the onset of the global downturn Scotland's export growth performance had been mixed, with growth slightly less than the growth in GDP. Between 2002 and 2007, the main source of export growth has been the rest of the UK, with international exports experiencing a slight decline over this period.

The indicator measures the growth in the value of goods and services that Scotland exports to other countries, including the rest of the UK, compared with the growth in overall GDP.

What will influence this National Indicator?

The success of Scottish exports reflects the competitiveness of Scottish companies, their links to world markets and world economic conditions. The Scottish export market has faced challenging conditions over the past five years. The manufacturing sector, particularly electronics, was heavily exposed to a global economic slowdown between 2000 and 2003. In addition, increasing global competition has seen many low cost producers relocating manufacturing activity to the lower cost economies of Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.

What is the Government's role?

Scottish Development International (SDI) supports companies in Scotland to do more business overseas. This includes helping them develop export strategies and increase the export of goods and services. But it goes beyond that. A significant proportion of SDI activities are linked to increasing Scottish manufactured exports, because of the focus on Scotland's priority industries (in particular, electronic markets and food and drink). And SDI's focus on companies with high growth potential means that international support often features strongly.

How are we performing?

In 2008, GDP growth was 2.9% and exports grew by 0.1%, therefore the gap was -2.8 percentage points. In 2009, GDP growth was 0.1%, whereas exports grew by 4.6% therefore the gap was 4.5 percentage points, indicating an improvement of the position compared with the difference of -2.8 percentage points observed for 2008.

Please note that the GDP growth figures presented here are in current prices (not deflated) so that they can be compared to the exports growth figures on the same basis. These figures should not be used to describe real year-on-year GDP growth, where a deflated index would be more appropriate.

Annual total exports growth and annual GDP growth, 2003 to 2009

Difference between annual growth in exports and GDP in current pricess 2003 to 2009

Source: Scottish Government, Office for National Statistics (ONS), Global Connections Survey

Note: The Global Connections Survey methodology incorporates new information into the export analysis which often reflects improvements made possible by the availability of additional years' survey responses. Therefore, previously published estimates are subject to revisions.

View data on exports growth


This evaluation is based on: any difference in the gap within +/- 0.1 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change (where the gap is calculated as exports growth rate minus GDP growth rate). An increase in the gap of 0.1 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 0.1 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Further Information

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Statistics Topic Page

Who are our partners?

Scottish Enterprise

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Scottish Development International

Local Authorities

Related Strategic Objectives

Wealthier and Fairer

View National Indicator data

Downloadable document:

Data for National Indicator 3Data for National Indicator 3 [XLS, 43.5 kb: 09 Feb 2011]
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Performance Improving


Performance Maintaining


Performance Worsening

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Performance data currently being collected