Aug 24, 2022 06:37 PM

Chart of the Day: China’s Services Trade Deficit Shrinks on Decline in Overseas Travel

China’s services trade deficit has narrowed at a rapid pace since 2020 amid a sharp decline in overseas travel, official data show.

The country ran a widening trade deficit in services for years, with tourism being the primary driver. But the gap shrank in 2019, and at an accelerated rate after the outbreak of Covid-19, as countries around the world tightened travel restrictions, Wang Dongtang, an official at the Ministry of Commerce, said in a press briefing Tuesday.


China recorded a $217.8 billion deficit in services trade in 2019, down 16% from the previous year, according to data from the ministry. The deficit more than halved to $100.5 billion the following year, and plummeted two-thirds to $32.7 billion in 2021, the smallest trade gap since 2010.

The tourism trade deficit dropped 55.8% last year compared with 2019, Wang said. In addition, a boom in exports of traditional services, such as transportation, as well as emerging services, including information services, intellectual properties, and culture and entertainment services, also contributed to the narrowing deficit.

In the first half of this year, deficit in services trade totaled $12.2 billion, equal to 37% of that for the whole of 2021, according to Wang.

Contact reporter Zhang Yukun ( and editor Jonathan Breen (

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