Posted on December 23rd, 2016
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
There is a great deal of speculation and propaganda being thrown around by both sides in the Indie Debate about how much of Scotland’s exports go to the UK rather than the EU. The claim most commonly seen is that around 4 times as much goes to the UK as goes to the EU.
In fairness, this figure is backed up by official Scottish Government statistics but it must be borne in mind that the figures are estimates and are based on completion of a voluntary return which not all Scottish Companies complete. In other words, the figures are a bit of a guess.
This hasn’t stopped the Tories using the figures in their anti-independence claims and, since the Tories are shouting about it, the media has dutifully picked up on the claim and will no doubt push it for all it is worth.
On the other side, there are claims UK Government sources have said the figure of Scottish exports to the UK is only around 44% of the total. However, I’ve not yet been able to source this claim and the figure appears to be the total of UK exports allegedly sent to the EU.
Then there’s the big bugbear of what is actually counted as Scottish exports. Whisky is the product most commonly cited, since it is alleged that all exports of whisky are shipped out from English ports and therefore don’t count as Scottish. There seems to be no way of differentiating between any goods exported to the UK and goods exported elsewhere via the UK, for example shipped to the EU via the Channel Tunnel.
To be honest, it’s all very confusing and the best advice would be to treat all claims with a degree of caution, since nobody really seems to know the true figure. If that is the case, don’t expect anyone in the UK Government or the mainstream media to carry out an investigation since it is in their interests to quote statistics which are, on the face of it, unfavourable to Scotland’s independence.
But the truth is that it doesn’t really matter how much of Scotland’s current exports go to the UK or the EU. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Take Ireland as a prime example of how economies adapt when circumstances change. In the immediate aftermath of Irish independence in the first half of the 20th Century, nearly 100% of Irish exports were sent to the UK. Since then, things have changed dramatically, as you would expect, because Ireland now exports goods all over the world. The same could equally apply to an independent Scotland which already exports goods worldwide, albeit mostly via the UK. Given a bit of time and investment, there is no reason why Scotland could not develop direct trade links all around the world. IN the interim, English ports are hardly likely to turn down business by refusing to transport Scottish goods, are they?
The other bit of illogical reasoning in the scare is that it asserts it is better to continue to trade with a population of around 55 million RUK citizens than develop trade with the EU market of over 500 million people. If you are looking to build your exports, which market would you target?
But the main reason it doesn’t matter, and why we should ignore the Unionist scares, is that exports will not suddenly stop if Scotland becomes independent. We are constantly assured that the UK will be able to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world once it leaves the EU. Are we to believe that they will refuse to trade with Scotland? If Scotland is independent and remains in the EU, any trade deal the UK does with the EU must logically include trading with Scotland, so the entire argument collapses on that point alone.
But let’s take the Armageddon scenario where Scotland becomes independent from the UK but fails to remain in the EU. Would we be isolated? Would we be utterly unable to negotiate trade deals? There’s no doubt it would be a challenge, but it’s certainly not beyond the abilities of scots who have traded around the world for centuries, including long before the Act of Union.
If you are still not convinced, then ask yourself why the RUK would not trade with Scotland. Would they deliberately cut off their own access to such things as whisky, gin, beef, salmon and electricity, all of which are currently exported to the UK from Scotland. NO doubt you can think of many other Scottish products which could be added to that list.
In short, this is a frantic attempt to scare Scots into sticking with Brexit UK. With the full weight of the media backing it, we will no doubt hear a lot more about this, but it’s just about the only thing Project Fear has got left.