Exports to the EU from Scotland slumped by up to 25% two years after Brexit as trade with the rest of the UK rose, it has been revealed.

Scottish Government estimates show that the value of Scotland's exports has slumped by nearly £2bn since the UK exited the EU from £16.950bn in 2019, to £14.970 in 2021 - a 12% drop in two years.

It comes as exports to the rest of the UK rose by an almost equivalent amount - £1.89bn - from £46.695bn to £48.585bn.

The biggest export slump amongst key EU partners came with the Netherlands - with trade crashing by over 25%.

Scots businesses have called for a review over the nation's relationship with the EU to make trading easier.

The highest value drop in sales to the EU has come in what is the nation's biggest export - refined petroleum products, coke, chemicals and chemical products which includes motor fuel. Exports dropped by £625m to £2.48bn - a drop of 20%.

READ MORE: Poll reveals Scots disquiet with Brexit with just one in ten saying the PM is handling the process well

Scotland's second biggest export to the EU was food products, beverages and tobacco products valued at £2.275bn in 2021 - but there was a drop of £185m on 2019.

Some £180m of that decline was in exports to the EU of spirits including whisky, brandy and gin, according to the study carried out by the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser.

The biggest percentage drop came in the export of rubber, plastic and other non-metallic chemical products, slumping by over a third (38.5%) from £670m to £410m. That was followed by 34.8% decline in the export of real estate activities from £80m to £50m and a 34.2% drop in transport equipment exports from £1.305bn to £860m.

The Herald: Liz Cameron, chief executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The world of international trade is where Scottish business belongs. If our economy is to grow then we must export more, it’s as simple as that.

“Firms that trade overseas, grow faster, pay better, and are more resilient. If Scotland wants to remain a growing economy on par with global competitors, then we need more firms selling more goods and services internationally.

“The export statistics clearly indicate we need to look again at ways of improving trade with the EU. It remains our biggest trading partner, but firms continue to express huge frustration with the complexity and costs involved – which go beyond what they face elsewhere.

“Trade is constantly developing and there are real opportunities for a global Scotland to explore new markets as technology advances, Net Zero takes hold and the geopolitical landscape shifts.

“If we all work together to take action and grasp opportunities then we can revitalise our exports growth and help power up the Scottish economy.”

The biggest exports slump amongst Scotland's prime EU destinations was the Netherlands with trade falling by £750m from £2.955bn in 2019 to £2.195bn in 2021.

Exports to France, Scotland's number one EU destination fell from £3.2bn in 2019 to £3.01bn in 2021 - a 6% fall, while those to Germany dropped slightly from £2.475bn to £2.455bn, while trade with Ireland fell by nearly 10% from £1.495bn to £1.35bn.

The Herald:

Meanwhile, exports to Belgium fell by 19% from £1.17bn to £945m while there was a 15.6% slump in trade with Spain from £995m to £840m.

There have been some upsides in exports to the EU since Brexit - with the provision of professional, scientific and technical services covering areas such as law, management, advertising, architecture and engineering and scientific research registering the highest value gain rising by £155m from £1.33bn to £148bn.

It comes as the Scottish Government set out its desire for EU membership in an independent Scotland.

They say that membership of the single market would allow Scottish firms to trade freely with more businesses and sell to more customers.

A Scottish Government analysis in June warned that EU markets are completely closed to some of our key products. Pre-Brexit, Scottish producers sold 20,000 tonnes of seed potatoes to EU customers each year but they say that trade has now collapsed.

And they said that 44% of businesses in Scotland who were facing difficulties trading overseas named Brexit as the main cause.

They say Scottish firms trying to export to Europe face significant additional costs and bureaucracy, at a time when their margins are already being squeezed.

They pointed to the "prized" seafood industry hit with an estimated 50% increase in the cost of packaging items sent to the EU, and they said new Export Health Certificates were costing the salmon sector alone approximately £1.3m per year.

Scottish Government officials carried out the study conducting the Global Connections Survey (GCS), which is one of the main sources for estimating Scotland’s exports. Additional UK wide official surveys and administrative sources are also used to produce the analysis.

The Herald:

Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK, now valued at £48.6 billion in 2021 accounted for over half (61%) of all Scotland’s exports.

Financial and insurance activities were the largest industry sector for exports to the rest of the UK in 2021. It was valued at an estimated £9.2bn and accounted for 19% of Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK.

Manufacturing accounted for over half (53%) of Scotland’s international exports in 2021, compared to just under a quarter (24%) of Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK.

By contrast (55%) of the value of Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK came from exports of services, compared to 39% for international exports.

Scotland exported £5.1 billion of goods and services to the USA in 2021, making it Scotland’s largest international export destination, accounting for 16% of Scotland’s sales abroad in the year. Food, beverages and tobacco accounted for a fifth (20%) of the American exports, and were worth just over £1bn.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "A reduction in trade with our neighbours in the EU was an entirely predictable consequence of the Brexit that the Scottish Government opposed and which Scotland did not vote for.

“The Scottish Government is working hard, within its limited powers, to strengthen trade links and Scotland recorded a 6% growth in international exports in 2021 compared to 2020."

The spokesman said that "only independence" will enable Scotland to rejoin the EU and regain "full access to the world's largest single market".

The Scottish Government added: “This would provide an opportunity for Scotland to replicate the success of independent European countries of comparable size that are wealthier and fairer than the UK.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s international exports increased to over £31 billion in 2021, showing the demand across the globe that exists for Scottish goods and services.

“We are working tirelessly to negotiate new trade deals, reduce trade barriers and open-up international markets to help these numbers grow further.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to encourage more businesses to take advantage of these opportunities."