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South Korea posts biggest services account deficit in H1 on falling Chinese tourists

South Korea posts biggest services account deficit in H1 on falling Chinese tourists

SEOUL: South Korea posted the biggest-ever services account deficit in the first half of this year as a falling number of Chinese tourists visiting the country led to a surge in the travel account deficit, central bank data showed Thursday.

Services account balance, which measures the flow of travel, transport costs and royalties, logged a deficit of 15.74 billion U.S. dollars in the January-June period, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

It was up from a deficit of 9.78 billion dollars in the previous six-month period, marking the largest-ever recorded by the economy.

The travel account deficit more than doubled at 7.74 billion dollars in the first half, compared with 3.5 billion dollars tallied a year earlier. It was the second-biggest figure in history.

Chung Kyu Il, director general of the BOK’s economic statistics department, told a press briefing that the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea tumbled, while the number of South Koreans traveling abroad jumped.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting the country was 255,000 in June, down 66.4 percent from a year ago.

The transport account deficit logged a record high of 2.28 billion dollars in the first half due to slump in the global shipping industry and the continued effect from the bankruptcy in February of Hanjin Shipping, the country’s former No. 1 shipping company.