Scotland business

Export agency 'contributes £300m to Scottish economy'

Ship freight containers being unloaded
Image caption The exports agency helped create about 19,000 jobs in four years

The Scottish government's exports agency contributes more than £300m to the Scottish economy each year, according to an independent audit.

Scottish Development International (SDI) is estimated to generate £11 in boosting inward investment for every £1 spent on it by the taxpayer.

It also produces £7 of extra value for every £1 of spending, by helping private firms with export activities.

The findings come from an evaluation commissioned by the agency.

SDI is jointly controlled by the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise.

The report found that, in the four years from 2005, the agency helped create about 19,000 jobs.

It also assisted in adding £58m to exports each year and £72m in helping exporters become more productive.

Nearly three-quarters of the 55 inward investor companies interviewed for the report said SDI was important in ensuring they continue to operate out of Scotland.

One of the more significant recommendations from the report said that exporting should not be an end in itself, but should be a way of helping Scottish firms become more efficient and productive.

Global environment

Other recommendations include providing more support for planning and strategic support for companies planning to export, and more specialist support in certain sectors.

The analysis, carried out by SQW Consulting, also said more should be done to monitor SDI's impact in working with companies.

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, signalled an intention to protect spending on exports and inward investment work from any looming budget cuts.

"Internationalisation is the single biggest opportunity for Scottish companies and I want the businesses we work with to be inspired to raise their sights and ambitions to consider the global environment," she said.

"As such, we are fully committed to protecting our investment in SDI."

She added: "In fact, a significantly larger proportion of our budget over the next three years will be used to support globally competitive companies in pursuing new opportunities overseas."

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