Scottish exports to the rest of the UK are worth four times as much as the country's exports to the rest of the European Union, according to new Scottish Government statistics.

Exports to the rest of the UK from Scotland totalled £49.8bn in 2015, a growth of 4.4% on the previous year.

Scotland's exports to the EU also grew by 4.4% over the year. The country exported £12.3bn worth of goods to the trading bloc.

Overall the country's exports increased by 3.6% in 2015 compared to the previous year.

The United States continues to be the Scotland's top trading partner with £4.6bn of exports sent across the Atlantic.

Inside the European Union, the Netherlands was the top export destination with £2.3bn of goods.

This figure is inflated with many products landing in the port of Rotterdam and then going on to other final destinations.

The statistics come at a time when the importance of the European single market, and the importance of internal UK trade, is being debated by politicians and campaign groups.

The Scottish Government's economy secretary Keith Brown said: "It is hugely encouraging to see that Scotland's total international exports, excluding oil and gas, increased by £1bn in a year.

"It is clear that since the vote to leave the European Union, we must continue to be seen to be a country that is outward facing and open for business.

"The EU market is eight times the size of UK market, which highlights the importance of remaining in the single market.

"I want to be clear that Scotland should not face a choice between exporting to the EU or UK. We can do both."

Secretary of state for Scotland David Mundell said the figures show the importance of being part of the UK and called on the SNP to drop any plans for a second independence referendum.

Mundell said: "Our own domestic market in the UK is far and away the most important market for Scotland's businesses.

"The Scottish Government's own figures show our trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times our exports to the EU.

"Businesses in Scotland sold £37.5bn more in goods and services to their own market in the UK than they did to all 27 EU countries put together."

He added: "Today's figures show the UK is the vital union for Scotland and highlight the importance of maintaining the UK market and preventing any new barriers to doing business across the UK as we leave the EU.

"We know the Scottish Government's constant talk of a second independence referendum is creating damaging uncertainty for the Scottish economy.

"I again call on the First Minister to end that uncertainty by taking her threat of another referendum off the table and working with us to get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK."