SCOTLAND'S exports totalled £26 billion in 2012 - £1.4bn, or 5.9%, higher than in the previous year - a survey has revealed.

The Global Connections survey, which was published yesterday by the Scottish Government and does not include oil and gas exports, shows that £15.4bn of overseas sales in 2012 were attributable to manufacturing companies. The services sector achieved £8.7bn of exports. Manufacturing sector exports were up by £1.1bn, or 7.9%, on 2011. Overseas sales by the services sector were up by £465 million or 5.6%.

The Scottish Government said the two largest exporting industries in 2012, as in previous years, were food and beverage manufacturing, with £4.7bn of overseas sales, and the coke, refined petroleum and chemical product category, with £4.1bn of exports.

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The Scotch whisky industry accounts for a very large proportion of the food and beverage export total.

The survey shows the US continues to be Scotland's top export destination, with an estimated £3.6bn of overseas sales to this country, up by £235m on 2011.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney described the export figures as "particularly encouraging", given challenging economic conditions in Europe.