Export Development Canada says trade confidence among Canadian exporters has hit its lowest level in seven years.
According to an annual survey, all five components of EDC’s index were down, continuing the decline seen in the 2018 year-end survey.
The drop of 5.3% brings the trade confidence index down to 69.8, almost four points below the series’ historical average.
“Disruptive international trade policies have clearly shaken the confidence of Canadian exporters,” said Peter Hall, chief economist with EDC. “One third of respondents are already negatively impacted by protectionist measures now in place, and an overwhelming majority see no resolution of major global trade issues within the next year.”
The Trade Confidence Index, released this week by the export financing agency, showed that tariffs and trade barriers remain a top concern for importers and exporters.
Looking ahead, few Canadian exporters said they expect any respite. In fact, more than 90% of respondents either said they expect protectionism measures to worsen (47%) or stay the same (45%) over the next 12 months.
More than 40% of respondents with an opinion said they anticipate the next global recession to occur within the next two years.
The survey was taken from March 19 to April 15, before U.S. President Donald Trump lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, a move that’s expected to help clear a path for the ratification of the new North American trade deal.