South Korea’s services-account deficit stretched to a new record-high in the first half as the result of sharp fall in Chinese tourists amid row over the deployment of U.S. missile shield in Korea, the Bank of Korea data showed Thursday.
The country’s services account balance, a measure of the flow of travel, transport costs and royalties, logged a deficit of $15.74 billion in the first half, the highest-ever. It was up from a deficit of $9.78 billion in the previous six-month peak. The travel account deficit more than doubled at $7.74 billion versus $3.5 billion a year ago, the second-biggest figure in history, as the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea tumbled, whereas 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 hit a record high of $2.28 billion in the January-June period due to the continued effect from the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping last year. Affected by the record-high services account deficit, the current account surplus, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, plunged to $36.27 billion in the first half from $51.69 billion a year ago.
In June alone, the current account surplus was $7.01 billion, about half of the surplus a year ago.
By Boo Jang-won
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