A ROW has blown up over analysis from economists which estimated that almost one quarter of Scotland’s jobs are supported by trade with the rest of the UK.
Research commissioned by the UK Government from Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute found that in 2013 around 530,000 jobs were directly or indirectly related to sales from Scotland to the rest of the United Kingdom – four times more than the 125,000 linked to the European Union.
The think-tank said just over 175,000 positions resulted from sales to the rest of the world, adding that the data was the “most recent” available.
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“In 2013, 24 per cent of Scotland’s employment was supported (summing direct, indirect and induced effects) by trade with the rest of the UK,” the report said.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said the findings ignored the fact that trade is two-way.
“Our own analysis shows exports to Scotland from the rest of the UK support over half a million jobs in the UK,” he said.
“Analysis also shows Scotland is the rest of the UK’s second-largest export market, behind only the US, with exports worth over £50 billion.
“It is quite simply nonsense to suggest that the rest of the UK would cease trading with Scottish firms if we were inside the single market but outside the UK.
“As we have consistently made clear, Scotland does not face a choice between exporting to the EU or the UK – we can, and should, do both.
“This is why we will continue to pursue a way forward which retains our place in Europe’s single market which is vital to protect economic stability, jobs and inward investment.”
However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the figures clearly demonstrated the value of the UK market to Scottish businesses – “which is worth four times that of the EU market”.
He said: “More than half a million Scottish jobs depend on being able to trade freely within the UK. As we leave the EU, it is vital we maintain the integrity of the UK market and prevent any new barriers to doing business across the UK.”
The institute’s research was based on economic input-output tables, showing the flow of goods and services in the economy. It said: “Given the scale of resources that goes into compiling these tables, they are typically published with a lag. Hence why the 2013 tables are the most recent.”
Earlier figures showed Scottish sales to the rest of the UK were worth almost £50bn in 2015 – four times as much as sales to the EU.
The Scottish Government data, published in January, showed sales to other parts of the UK rose by £2.1bn (4.4 per cent) over the year to an estimated £49.8bn while exports to other EU countries increased by £520 million to around £12.3bn.
Fraser of Allander said that, although its figures were only estimates, it believed they gave a “relatively robust indication of the employment supported by Scottish exports”.
It also stressed that its technical analysis, methodology and the writing of the results was “undertaken independently”, despite the research being requested by the Scotland Office.
The UK Government had asked the institute to estimate the number of jobs in Scotland linked to the demand for exports from the rest of the UK, the rest of the EU and other international exports.