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Taiwan's travel deficit hits US$1.32 billion in Q1: central bank

2017/05/19 22:25:52

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Taiwanese once again spent far more on travel overseas than foreign nationals spent on travel in Taiwan in the first quarter of 2017, the fifth consecutive quarter in which the country ran a travel deficit in its current account.

Taiwan's travel revenues totaled US$2.94 billion in the first quarter while overseas travel expenses totaled US$4.26 billion, yielding a deficit of US$1.32 billion, according to balance of payment statistics released by Taiwan's central bank on Friday.

It was the second highest quarterly travel deficit in the past seven years when Taiwan's foreign visitor arrival numbers exploded, behind only the US$1.63 billion deficit in the third quarter of 2016.

Taiwan ran yearly travel surpluses from 2011 to 2014 before running a deficit of US$1.12 billion in 2015.

Behind the big deficit in the first quarter was the continuing decline in visitors from China, Taiwan's largest source of foreign arrivals.

Another factor was an increase in Taiwanese traveling abroad, encouraged by a 7 percent appreciation in the Taiwan dollar during the quarter that made overseas travel cheaper.

Because of the travel deficit, the overall balance on services in the current account ran a deficit of US$2.68 billion, according to the central bank.

In another closely watched metric, Taiwan saw a net outflow of capital for the 27th consecutive quarter in the January to March period.

Taiwanese invested an additional US$2.64 billion abroad while foreign investors injected US$930 million into Taiwan during the three-month period, central bank figures showed.

At the same time, Taiwanese investment in foreign bonds showed a net increase of US$34.17 billion, the highest ever for any quarter on record, because of a surge in purchases of foreign bonds by local life insurance companies.

On a broader level, the current account registered a surplus of US$16.39 billion in the first quarter, down 16.3 percent, or US$3.19 billion, year-on-year, because of a smaller trade in goods surplus and bigger trade in services deficit, central bank figures showed.

(By Bernie Chiu and Lilian Wu)