[BEIJING] China's trade deficit in services widened to US$18.3 billion in May, as Chinese tourists continued to spend more abroad than foreigners visiting the country, the foreign exchange regulator said on Tuesday.
The deficit was led by a US$16.2 billion gap in spending between Chinese and foreign tourists, according to data from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
The country posted a US$17.3 billion deficit on trade in services in April. Last year the services sector had a deficit of US$10.2 billion in May.
For the first five months, China had a deficit of US$76.7 billion in services trade and a surplus of US$207.8 billion on trade in goods, producing a combined surplus on trade in goods and services of US$131 billion, the data showed.
Beijing has promised to further open up China's services sector, which is dominated by Chinese companies, to foreign investment but the process has been gradual.
The government has been trying to boost the services sector to create more jobs at a time when factories are struggling, but analysts warn that clumsy attempts to force the transition could do more harm than good.