SCOTLAND'S international exports totalled about £23.9 billion in 2011, up £1.6bn or 7% on 2010, figures show.

The Scottish Government's latest Global Connections Survey shows manufacturing exports rose by £1.1bn to £14.7bn in 2011, and accounted for 61% of the total. Services exports rose by £280 million to £7.69bn.

The export figures, which exclude oil and gas, are presented in nominal terms, and so are not adjusted for inflation.

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Other economic indicators have signalled the exporting climate has become much tougher for manufacturers north of the Border since the 2011 period covered by the survey, published yesterday by the Scottish Government.

A Confederation of British Industry survey on Tuesday revealed the first quarterly fall in export orders for the Scottish manufacturing sector in three years.

The Global Connections Survey shows Scotland's food and drink manufacturing sector remained the biggest exporter, reflecting the scale of the Scotch whisky sector. The food and drink sector raised its exports by about £260m to £4.205bn in 2011.

Within this, the whisky industry itself is calculated to have enjoyed a £210m jump in its exports to £3.53bn.

Elsewhere in the manufacturing sector, exports by the coke, refined petroleum and chemicals products category are estimated to have totalled £3.67bn in 2011, up by £995m on 2010.

Exports by the computer, electronic and optical products manufacturing sub-sector totalled £1.43bn in 2011, up slightly from £1.415bn in 2010.

The category comprising machinery and equipment manufacturing not included in other specific categories, essentially mechanical engineering, saw a dip in its exports from £1.52bn to £1.375bn.

Financial and insurance services was another key exporting category in Scotland in 2011. This services sub-sector enjoyed a rise in its exports from £1.32bn in 2010 to £1.415bn in 2011.

The US remained Scotland's top export destination in 2011, the Global Connections Survey shows. Exports to the US rose by £30m to £3.525bn in 2011.

The Netherlands remained the second-biggest export market for Scotland. The survey shows a £255m rise in exports to the Netherlands to £2.665bn in 2011.

Scottish exports to France, the third-top market, rose by £425m to £1.935bn. And Scottish exports to Germany in 2011 totalled £1.365bn, up by £220m on 2010.

Belgium became Scotland's fifth-largest export market in 2011. Scottish exports to Belgium totalled £980m in 2011, up from £855m in 2010.

Norway, which had been the fifth-biggest export market in 2010, slipped to seventh in 2011. Scottish exports to Norway were calculated to have fallen from £1.005bn in 2010 to £765m.

In 2011, Scottish exports to the European Union rose by 14.7%. Scottish exports to Asia climbed by 8.7%.

Publication of the latest Global Connections Survey coincided with a visit by First Minister Alex Salmond to MESL Microwave, an Edinburgh-based microwave and electronics firm, which exports 70% of its products and is strengthening its presence in the emerging space market.

Mr Salmond said: "Strengthening Scotland's economic links to other countries is a priority of this Government and this latest survey demonstrates that our drive and work to seize overseas exports is really taking off – our exports have literally rocketed."

He added: "MESL are boldly going where few Scottish exporters have gone before through their work with Nasa and Mitsubishi, and they are just one of the many firms receiving advice and support from our enterprise agencies to grasp growth opportunities."

According to the Global Connections Survey, Scottish companies' sales to the rest of the UK, excluding oil and gas, totalled about £45.5bn in 2011, up by £1.9bn on 2010

Of this, £24.5bn is attributable to services companies and £11.6bn to the manufacturing sector.