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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        1  March 2011

Vietnam trade in gold bars banned

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Gold bars will be banned on the free market and gold trading tightly controlled under Government Resolution 11/NQ-CP recently issued to stabilise the macro-economy.

The State Bank of Vietnam has been asked to submit to the government a decree on the management of gold-trading activities that would gradually stop gold bars trading on the unofficial market. The resolution also said that gold smuggling across the border must stop.

Following the announcement, local gold prices dropped by VND150,000 per tael (1 tael equals 1.2 Troy ounces).

An official from the central bank, who declined to be named, said under the proposed decree, gold shops would not be allowed to trade gold bars, except for jewelery gold.

Buying bars would become more difficult, but those owning gold bars could continue to do so but could only sell gold at outlets designated by the central bank, he said.

"The draft decree will be presented to the government by the second quarter before guiding documents were issued," the official said.

The bank official said the effective date of the decree would be considered carefully so a transitional period would be taken into account.

A statement from the central bank said tough measures had been adopted because the accumulation of gold was not benefiting the economy.

Instead, it was increasing gold prices and the VND/US dollar exchange rate.

Gold prices have affected dollar prices over the past 10 years, when the demand for gold soared due to speculators buying gold to pay debts.

In addition, gold smugglers would amass US dollars to illegally import gold while dollar traders would take advantage of this opportunity to drive dollar prices higher.

Also, the prices of US dollars sold on the local market did not rise when domestic gold prices equalled world gold prices.

When domestic gold prices were far higher than world prices, US dollar prices would climb. The central bank said tightening gold-bar trading activities and measures to stabilise the market would help change people's habits and mobilise large amounts of idle funds to serve business and production.

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