By Daniel Hunter

Scotland needs a new brand to promote its skills and products abroad, according to an economic think tank.

The report by N-56, which has close links with the Scottish National Party (SNP), also suggested that Scotland needs better air links and freight terminals to boost exports.

The report also calls for an improved sales force with better language skills.

It pointed toward the examples of other small countries which rely on exports for growth like Denmark, Ireland and Singapore.

N-56 found that Scotland's trade volumes would need to grow by 41% to reach the average for small advanced economies. If oil and gas are excluded, trade volumes would need to rise by 63%.

The report recommended that Scotland apply to join the Nordic Council, a group of independent states and countries with devolved powers.

Graeme Blackett of economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics, which compiled the report, said: "A renewed focus on increasing exports will allow Scotland to close the trade gap with other wealthy economies, boosting productivity and achieving their economic growth rates.

"The lesson from prominent trading economies shows that initiatives such as the development of a realistic and authentic national brand can play an important role."