(ATF) China’s Ministry of Finance has given its first indication of the severity of the coronavirus fallout on the nation’s once-surging services sector.
Revenue among tertiary-level companies engaged in everything from construction to tourism contracted almost 11% to 1.15 trillion yuan ($164.6 billion) in the first quarter, as the lockdown forced millions to remain at home for two months while officials battled the spread of the scourge.
The export of services including transport, tourism, telecommunications and advertising amounted to 444.28bn yuan in the first three months of the year, down 4.1 %, while imports fell 14.5% to 708.02bn yuan.
While the trade deficit in the sector narrowed to 263.74bn yuan from 365bn yuan in the first quarter of 2019, the figures show that the epidemic has had a potentially lasting effect on a part of the economy that planners had been targeting for growth.
The ministry sought to put a brave face on the data, seeking to highlight the “strong resilience” in China's trade of knowledge-intensive services amid the epidemic, which jumped 7.8 % year on year.
But the decline is in line with China’s first quarter GDP contraction of almost 7%, the first decline in generations.