THE value of goods exported from Scotland to the EU has grown by almost one fifth in a year, new figures show.

Trade Minister Ivan McKee, pictured below, said the rise emphasises the importance of Scotland retaining close trading links with the EU.

Scotland’s exports to the EU rose 18% to £15.7 billion in the year to September 2018, making up more than half of overall goods exports, which rose 6% to £29.6bn.

Goods brought in from the EU also increased in the same period, up 7.5% to £9.6bn.

Exports to non-EU countries fell 4.5% to £13.9bn and imports from these countries rose 13.1% to £15.8bn.

The HMRC statistics show Scotland’s largest export partner by value was The Netherlands, which was also the partner country with the largest value increase. The largest import partner by value was Norway. Singapore was the partner country with the largest value rise for imports.

Speaking from Hamburg, where he is discussing further growth in Scotland’s trade with Europe, McKee said the figures were “very encouraging”.

“The value of Scotland’s annual goods exports increased by 6% to £29.6bn. This is a higher growth rate than the overall UK figure of 4% and the highest percentage increase of any UK country,” he said.

“The figures show just how important trade with the EU is.

“Exports of goods to the EU are up 18% to £15.7bn and more specifically exports of oil and gas to the EU are up 37% from £5.7bn to £7.8bn. They demonstrate the competitive disadvantage Scotland will suffer compared to Northern Ireland under the UK Government’s current proposals.

“They also show the importance of Scotland staying in the single market and customs union, which is eight-times bigger than the UK market, because trade with the EU makes up more than half of Scotland’s exports.”