Would leaving the UK harm Scotland's international goods exports?

Many people are concerned about how Scotland would ensure export success outside of the UK. We say the question should be whether being part of the UK has had anything to do with Scotland’s export success and whether our membership of the UK puts us at risk. We researched and we found the following:

The Truth

Scotland is an exporting powerhouse, whose success has had nothing to do with being part of the UK, but whose future has been jeopardised due to the UK leading taking Scotland out of the European Union.

The Facts

  • Scotland's exporting success is nothing to do with being part of the UK - indeed Scotland has achieved this success despite having no major container ports, meaning almost all of its goods need to travel through England to be exported.
  • It is Scotland’s reputation for quality, our natural resources and brand image that spans oil and gas expertise, to quality specialities such as Scotch whisky and the premium international buyers perceive, on our beef, salmon and seafood in particular, that drive Scotland’s exporting success.
  • Brexit and potentially leaving the single market and customs union would be devastating to Scotland’s economy. Ironically our exporting success means that Brexit will impact more negatively on Scotland than on the rest of the UK.
  • According to the Fraser of Allander Institute, it would slash our exports by up to 11%, reduce our Government revenues and cost as many as Scottish 80,000 jobs losses in the event of a No Deal Brexit. However, even a softer Brexit with a customs union but no single market access would still see tens of thousands of job loses and significant export falls.


When it comes to exporting Scotland has many vital advantages and significant untapped potential. However, being part of the UK, having its ports closed, resulting in goods forced to travel further to be exported, and the dangers of Brexit mean that Scottish exports and the Scottish economy are far more likely to thrive with the bespoke policies and attention they would receive in an independent Scotland.