EUROPE was the strongest market for Scotland’s exports at the start of this year when the country enjoyed a noticeable value increase.

HMRC said the total value of goods exported by Scottish companies rose by 15 per cent in quarter one compared to the same period last year, but took a dip in the US.

The latest figures reveal that Scotland’s exports grew to £8.4 billion in the first quarter, up from £7.3bn in the same period last year.

It said the European Union continued to be the most import market for Scotland’s exporters, accounting for 50% of exports by value, followed by Asia and Oceania on 24% and North America on 13%.

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The most significant export growth was recorded by companies in the mineral fuels, beverages and tobacco, and chemicals sectors.

Scotland-based companies grew their exports across every global market with the exception of North America, where the value of exports dropped by 5%.

There was a rise in exports to Asia and Oceania, up 67%, sub-Saharan Africa, where there was a rise of 11% and Latin America and the Caribbean, up 10%.

Alex Tait, of consultants RSM, said: “It’s particularly encouraging to see that food and drink exports from Scotland are up. New numbers released this week suggest that exports of salmon and whisky are doing particularly well. That said, these numbers might flatter slightly as overseas buyers may have brought forward orders because of Brexit uncertainty.

“Whatever happens with respect to Brexit, exporters will need to be agile and respond quickly to any changes in the international trading environment.”