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Canadian exporters’ confidence hits 7-year low as U.S.-China trade war drags on

A farmer works a potato field in North Tryon, Prince Edward Island on Thursday, July 13, 2000. An Ottawa-based think tank is predicting rising growth for all four Atlantic provinces - especially tiny P.E.I., which is expected to lead the country with 3.2 per cent growth this year.
A farmer works a potato field in North Tryon, Prince Edward Island on Thursday, July 13, 2000. An Ottawa-based think tank is predicting rising growth for all four Atlantic provinces - especially tiny P.E.I., which is expected to lead the country with 3.2 per cent growth this year. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Canadian exporters’ confidence fell to a seven-year low in a survey released on Thursday amid the disruption caused by trade wars and the imposition of U.S. tariffs.

The Export Development Canada survey was completed in March and April, before the United States removed punitive trade measures against Canadian steel and aluminum exports last month.

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“Disruptive international trade policies have clearly shaken the confidence of Canadian exporters,” EDC chief economist Peter Hall said in a statement.

“One third of respondents are already negatively impacted by protectionist measures now in place, and an overwhelming majority sees no resolution of major global trade issues within the next year.”

The Bank of Canada has repeatedly identified the U.S.-China trade war as one of the main risks facing the economy.

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EDC said the trade confidence index in March and April had dropped to 69.8% – almost four percentage points below the series’ historical average – from 73.7% at the end of 2018.

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Just over a third of respondents said protectionism was affecting their export and international investment strategies, while 31% said the U.S.-China trade dispute was hitting their export and investment activities.

More than 90% of respondents expected protectionist measures to worsen or stay the same over the next 12 months. EDC surveys 1,000 exporters twice a year for the trade confidence index.

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