I read this article in the Herald and feel it demonstrates one of the challenges that an Independent Scotland would have as this is one of the three main areas we need to be successful at to do well as an Independent country...

Nearly half of Scotland's small manufacturing firms have no interest in exporting their goods, according to the first survey of the sector, to be released tomorrow.

The report, Small Businesses in Manufacturing, compiled by the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, finds 44% of business surveyed were not exporting, and did not plan to.

The main reasons given for not pursuing a route that "can be beneficial in growing manufacturing businesses and for the wider economy" were that their products were not appropriate for export due to the perceived lack of international demand, or that they just had no ambitions in exporting. The main barriers were the cost of reaching export markets, and risk in terms of foreign currency volatility.

The findings, combined with revelations of widespread ignorance of public-sector support, are likely to spur efforts by the public sector, including Scottish Development International's Smart Exporter scheme, to improve awareness of the benefits of export in Scotland's SME-dominated business landscape.

Just under half the businesses surveyed have not had support from public agencies such as Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Manufacturers Advisory Service. The survey showed half of those firms were put off trying to get support by the perception of there being "too much bureaucracy" involved.

The report revealed for the first time that small businesses, defined as businesses with fewer than 50 employees, make up 89% of Scotland's manufacturing base, but provide only 26% of employment and 11% of turnover.

Issues such as fuel and transport costs, raw material prices, supply-chain pressures and late payment were identified as the biggest concern for small manufacturers. Most did not see location in Scotland as "having an obvious impact on their business", either positively or negatively.

Alastair