The value generated by the UK's trade relationship with the rest of the European Union has been highlighted in a new report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).
Published ahead of the referendum on the UK's continued membership of the union on June 23rd, the paper aims to lay out a series of key facts and figures to help inform the debate surrounding the decision.
It indicates that 44 per cent of UK exports are currently to other EU countries, representing a total economic value of £223 billion; meanwhile, 53 per cent - or £291 billion - of the UK's imports come from the rest of the EU.
The report also showed that other EU countries contribute £496 billion in foreign direct investment to the UK, 48 per cent of the country's total. This is considerably more than the US, which contributes 24 per cent of this figure.
More than three million jobs in the UK are directly linked to exports to the rest of the EU, representing ten per cent of the UK workforce.
The aim of releasing these figures is to ensure that people are able to consider the benefits and risks of leaving or remaining in the EU objectively, rather than relying on skewed misconceptions.
David Wood, executive director for technical policy at ICAS, said: "The cost of the UK contribution to the EU budget in 2015 was £8.5 billion … [which] represents 0.5 per cent of the UK's estimated total GDP of £1.79 trillion for 2015.
"This illustrates that the fiscal aspect of the UK's relationship with the EU, while important, is dwarfed by the significance of the UK/EU trading relationship, and regardless of the outcome of the vote it is critical that this is maintained."