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Scotland worried by economic pressures from Brexit

Country tied bid for independence in 2014 on the North Sea.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Scotland worried by economic pressures from Brexit
Scotland worried the economic growth may be threatened by dual strains of Brexit and lower crude oil prices. File Photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI | License Photo

EDINBURGH, Scotland, July 20 (UPI) -- The Scottish economy is showing signs of stamina, but uncertainty from the exit from the European Union hangs over momentum, a minister said.

The Scottish government reported the economy was relatively flat during the first quarter of the year, but stable with a growth rate of gross domestic product of 2.1 percent in 2015. In terms of general economic sectors, production and construction contracted, while the services sectors showed signs of slow growth.

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Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said data show employment above pre-recession highs, but challenges remain for the nation's economy.

"The Scottish economy has strong fundamentals, but as businesses face uncertainty during negotiations over our future relationship with the EU, we will not only work hard to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU, but will strive to make the most of current and future opportunities in our economy as set out in our economic strategy," he said in a statement.

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The International Monetary Fund this week revised its global economic forecast lower largely in response to the June decision by British voters to leave the European Union. After the vote, the Scottish government said it would consider a referendum for independence, its second this decade.

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More than half of the voters taking part in the first Scottish referendum said "no" in September 2014. At the time, the Scottish government said it would rely on revenue from oil and gas to power an economy fueled by renewable energy resources.

More than 60 percent of the Scottish voters checked a ballot to stay in the European Union

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With crude oil prices down 50 percent from what they were in the wake of the Scottish vote for independence two years ago, energy companies like BP are cutting back and, as a result, thousands of jobs have been lost in the British oil and gas sector so far this year.

"We are committed to improve our economic growth," Wheelhouse said.

The Scottish government in June secured assurances from London that support for the oil and gas sector would continue not only during an era of lower oil prices, but also as the region charts a future independent from the EU.

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