Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has pointed to the importance the region plays in the Scottish economy following the publication of recent export figures.
The global connections survey published by Scotland's chief statistician focused on exports from Scotland in 2007.
It showed that the Scotland exports, excluding those figures for oil and gas were worth £20.6 billion. With the highest exporting industry as food and beverages at £4.6 billion.
Other figures showed that the main trading partner with Scotland (excluding other parts of the UK) was the USA whilst France was second.
All in all the largest trading block which Scotland exports to is the EU at £9,455 million.
Commenting on the figures Mr Gibson said….
"These figures are encouraging as they show a 1.3 billion increase on 2006. Whilst these figures are pre the economic slump it shows that the Scottish economy was moving in the right direction. It is a shame that a truer value cannot be gleaned from Scotland as these figures do not show the amount of money that is taken in from oil and gas exports."
"Food and especially drink make up a large percentage of Scottish exports. It shows the importance of the agricultural industry is to the overall Scottish economy. That helps make the Highlands and Islands one of the main drivers in the country and with new renewable energy developments it will become all the more important."
He went on…
"However it is vitally important that certain actions are taken to help develop and grow the economy in the North and West. That means a greater emphasis on clean and green food production. GM technologies will not boost our agricultural produce. Also there needs to be the infrastructure to help develop renewable ventures. Production and exportation of energy could radically transform the Highlands and Islands and lead to them been one of the main drivers in the future of Europe."