OTTAWA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The confidence of Canadian exporters, a sector of the economy the central bank has long worried about, increased in the second half of 2013, Canada's export credit agency said on Thursday.
Export Development Canada's (EDC) trade confidence index rose to 75.4 from 72.6 in the first half of 2013 on increasing optimism about business conditions in the United States, Europe and Japan, the agency said in a statement.
Exports account for around 30 percent of Canada's gross domestic product. EDC said the survey marked the first consecutive increase in trade confidence since 2009.
"A simultaneous rise in global business confidence bodes well for Canadian exporters ... We may well be looking at a moment when companies around the world start ramping up production to keep up with demand," said Peter Hall, EDC's chief economist.
Since the start of the recession exporters have struggled to cope with weak foreign markets and a strong Canadian dollar, a fact the Bank of Canada says is holding back the economy.
Canada sends around 74 percent of its exports to the United States. The survey found 40 per cent of respondents reported orders from U.S. customers had increased in the past six months, rising from 35 per cent in the previous survey.
Some 71 percent of respondents said the strong dollar had a high or medium impact on their export sales with 54 percent saying they were "very prepared" to work with a dollar at or around parity with the U.S. dollar.
In recent weeks the Canadian dollar has fallen from parity and on Thursday was hovering at just below a 3-1/2-year low of C$1.0682 to the greenback, or 93.62 U.S. cents.
The survey is based on 769 responses to a telephone survey carried out from Sept 23 to Oct 4.