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Property slump

A property boom has ended in Ho Chi Minh City with prices down 20 to 30 percent on

last year, according to a state-owned newspaper.

Zoning changes were a major reason, the English-language Vietnam News said. Houses

remained unsold because their locations had been earmarked for other purposes.

Turnover in the housing market was 50 to 70 percent down on last year. Bank lending

for property development had also fallen, and some developers were having trouble

repaying bank loans, the report said.

Ho Chi Minh City has experienced a speculative property boom over the past two years,

with house and land prices rising three to five times because of an increasing number

of foreign businesses flocking into the city. Some investors were overseas Vietnamese.

Some land - all state-owned but available on long lease - was cornered in anticipation

of fresh demand for property when the United States lifts its economic embargo against

Vietnam. This has yet to happen.

Vietnam News said applications for property licenses had dropped by five percent

over the last three months compared with the same period last year.

Oil Out

Vietnam's state oil import-export firm, Petechim, exported 5.545 million tones

of crude oil in the first 11 months of this year, the official Vietnam New Agency

(VNA) reported.

Customers were in Japan, Singapore and Australia, the agency said.

No comparison figure was available for 1992, when Vietnam, which has no refinery

of its own and exports all its output, produced 5.5 million tones.

Petechim's export target for the whole of 1993 is 6.1 million to 6.2 million tones,

VNA said. -Reuters

Trade deficit

Vietnam is heading for a $200 million trade deficit this year after a small surplus

in 1992, according to government figures.

The value of exports would be $3 billion, up 20 percent on last year, but imports

would be 45 percent higher at $3.2 billion, the trade ministry, quoted by the official

Vietnam News Agency, said.

Vietnam had a $20 million surplus last year, its first for years. -Reuters

'Fifth' Post

Vietnam and China have reopened their fifth border post, between Ta Lung in Cao

Bang province on the Vietnamese side and Shui Kou in Guangxi province on the Chinese

side. Unofficially, more than 30 border crossing points are open.

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