Goods exports from Scotland grew by almost a fifth to reach £28 billion, new UK Government figures have revealed.

The rise in overseas sales was the highest for any country in the UK in the year to September 2017 - with the increase largely down to a £2.6 billion upturn in oil and gas exports.

The sector saw sales to other countries grow by 43.4%, contributing to an overall rise in exports from Scotland of 19.9%.

Scotland's increase in exports was ahead of Wales (18.9% up), England (14.1%) and Northern Ireland (13.3%).

The figures - the latest regional trade statistics from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - showed Scotland experienced a 21.7% rise in goods being sold to the European Union.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said the data reinforced the importance of remaining in the European single market.

He said: "HMRC regional trade statistics published today show that Scotland's annual goods exports are growing faster than the UK as a whole - up 19.9% on last year to a total of £28 billion.

"The increase in these returns was largely driven by an upturn in the fortunes of our oil and gas exports, which grew by 43.4% or £2.6 billion.

"Scotland's goods exports to the EU have also increased by 21.7% to £13.4 billion, further emphasising the vital importance of the EU single market - our largest trading partner - to our economic prosperity."

Mr Brown added: "The EU single market has removed barriers to trade and opened Scotland to a market of over 500 million people and 21 million small and medium-sized enterprises.

"Leaving the single market and customs union could potentially increase the cost of exporting to EU markets, reduce the country's attractiveness to overseas investors and impose restrictions on labour, thus increasing skills shortages and reducing productivity."