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China's service trade deficit expands in December

China's deficit in foreign service trade expanded in December, official data showed Thursday.

The deficit stood at $22.6 billion last month, up from $20 billion in November, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement.

Income from trade in services stood at $23.1 billion last month, while expenditure was $45.7 billion.

In contrast to merchandise trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transport, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.

China has taken steps to improve the development of trade in services, including gradually opening up the finance, education, culture and medical treatment sectors.

SAFE began issuing monthly data on service trade in January 2014 to improve the transparency of balance of payment statistics. Since the start of 2015, it has also included monthly data on merchandise trade in its reports.

Last month, China saw a surplus of $55.7 billion in foreign merchandise trade, up from $50.5 billion in November.