OFFSHORE North Sea activity is now contributing to, rather than reducing, Scottish economic growth and there is potential for this rebound to strengthen, a leading expert has declared.

John McLaren, honorary professor at the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School, highlighted this turnaround following publication yesterday of the latest quarterly national accounts by the Scottish Government.

The national accounts signal business investment remains weak in Scotland. Business investment in the onshore Scottish economy in the three months to June was down by 14.8 per cent on the same period of last year, according to “experimental statistics” included in the national accounts release.

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Business investment has, in recent years, been weak across the UK as a whole. Brexit uncertainty has been highlighted by economists as a key factor that has hampered business investment since last year’s vote by the UK electorate to leave the European Union.

The national accounts confirmed that, in real terms, Scotland’s onshore gross domestic product grew by only 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to June. Onshore GDP rose by 0.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the opening three months of this year. Second-quarter onshore GDP was, in real terms, only 0.5 per cent higher than in the same period of 2016.

Publishing an analysis of the data relating to the Scottish economy’s performance in cash, as opposed to real or inflation-adjusted, terms, and including North Sea activity, Mr McLaren declared the latest figures showed growth of 0.8 per cent in GDP in the second quarter.

He noted that second-quarter GDP was, on this basis, up 3.1 per cent on a year earlier.

Mr McLaren, who runs the Scottish Trends website, said: “This is in part due to the North Sea contributing to growth over the past year, rather than undermining it as happened in much of the previous four years.”

He added: “Offshore North Sea activity is now contributing to economic growth rather than detracting from it and this bounce-back may yet further improve given the recent rise in the oil price.”

Brent crude has recently climbed back above $60 a barrel, and was trading close to $65 earlier this week.

In his economic analysis, Mr McLaren noted Scotland’s trade position “has not improved as might have been hoped given the depreciation in sterling”.