When it comes to Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, an important issue that crops up is its economic and financial relations with the rest of the world. As Scotland is located in the north of the UK, it is in a good position to export and import via maritime routes and independently connect to the EU and other global markets.
Scotland has an excellent geographical position, which is a good opportunity for this country to easily reach European countries. Via its maritime transport routes, Scotland can directly reach many nations like Germany, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries and also the Republic of Ireland. A Scottish independence route will have an economic strategy to grow its exports. For this purpose, Scotland has upgraded its major seaports to easily reach mainland Europe. Brexit has played its part by increasing discussions about Scottish independence.
In the May 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections, the Scottish National Party (SNP) stated that this issue was an important agenda for the country. In the 2016 referendum, 62% of Scottish voters favoured remaining in the EU. Leaving the UK, however, will bring concerns about an independent Scottish economy.
Maritime Transport an Important Trade Route for Scotland
Scotland, one of four nations in the United Kingdom, is located off the North Sea, which is a source of oil and gas and also a corridor for maritime transport. Throughout the last decade, Scotland has traded a large volume of goods using maritime transport with European and international markets. Around half of its exports went to the EU and the rest went to other global destinations.
Scotland’s key export commodities are petroleum, petroleum products and derivatives, food and drink, and power generating machinery and equipment. All four main modes of transport, namely land, sea, rail and air, are used for exports. Maritime transport includes freight from some of Scotland’s main commercial ports. Its trade in services with the world has increasingly expanded and the contribution of this sector to its economy has grown significantly.
Scotland’s economy is increasingly dependent on the cost effective movement of freight by sea, air and land. The type of transport used for carrying products to markets depends on the nature and destination of the freight. Scottish ports have the main job of delivering millions of tonnes of freight. Its Maritime transport is used for large volumes of Scottish freight, both in imports and exports. Scottish ports are rather successful and benefit the local, regional and national economy of the country.
There are more than 200 ports in Scotland, including private ownership, local authority ownership and trust ports, plus ports run by the Ministry of Defence and the Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, which are different in size and purpose. The Scottish government has developed a strategy for the growth of Scottish maritime transport in a competitive international market.
Shipping Goods to Russian Ports Shortens Traditional Journey Times
Scottish demand for independence increases concerns about its economic prosperity and its relations with the world without England. Supporters of Scottish independence exaggerate about its rich resources and its powerful economy, but beyond this, there are maritime transport opportunities which can help the country. It is suggested that since Scotland is located in the north, it can create a new route to Russian ports to shorten the traditional voyage via the Suez Canal; Scotland can be a new economic region on a major global trading passage.
Maritime transport and shipping services have provided an environment that links Scottish importers and exporters to EU member states. With the growth of businesses and economic capacity, Scotland is able to transport Scottish business to international markets using its strategic freight hubs. The sea route is an alternative to routes via England and is also a shorter path as compared to road transport.
With increasing customer demand, sea ports in Scotland have a key role to play in the infrastructure of maritime transport. These ports provide the transport infrastructure between sea and land and are critical in freight transport and movements by people. In 2019 and 2020, important freights carried in Scotland, including import and export, were done via air and sea ports. The eleven major Scottish sea ports connect the country to ports in the UK, mainland Europe, Asian destinations and also South America.
Sea ports and maritime transport in Scotland have the capacity to improve further. China is a large non-EU market for Scottish freight and mainly imports crude oil from Scotland. In 2019, the transport of crude oil, dry bulk, oil products and liquefied gas were among the top freight categories shipped from the country.
Scotland Connects to Global Markets via Maritime Transport
Being on the border of the North Sea provides Scotland with a range of maritime transport opportunities. Its ports and harbours were sites for defence and development and shaped the modern Scottish economy, linking Scotland to many other ports in the world. The top international destination of Scottish maritime transport is the Netherlands, because the Dutch port of Rotterdam is an international shipping hub and a connection route for Scottish freights to other global markets.
US ports and airports are some of Scotland’s main export destinations outside the European Union. The Republic of Ireland is a trading partner for Scotland and there is daily shipping between the two. So far, a quarter of Scotland’s freight has been handled by sea via ports which connect to more than one hundred destinations around the world. Top foreign visitors who travel to Scotland are from the countries with more trade links such as the Netherlands, Norway, China, Germany, France and the US, who mostly use air and some sea routes to visit the country.
Despite the UK government’s ambitious policy of “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, Scotland with its different demands and rich resources has emphasised on independence. The main issue for an independent Scotland is its economy and the way it handles it if separated from the UK.
The Scottish government has stated that the country has an economic strategy to grow its exports after independence. Scotland has good resources and services and is located on the North Sea, which eases its connection to other countries. Its excellent geographical position is a good opportunity for this country to easily reach the EU and other global destinations both for imports and exports. Maritime transport has helped Scotland with a quarter of its freight deliveries and it has the capacity to expand further.