Vietnam continues to inch towards setting up a stock exchange, with a proposal by the State Securities Commission (SSC) that foreign accounting firms be permitted to audit companies seeking listing. Foreign auditors will be permitted entry into the potentially lucrative sector only if they have a minimum of two years on-the-ground experience in Vietnam. The proposal is seen as important in boosting confidence in potential buyers of shares who have expressed concern at the lack of transparency in accounting methods applied, in particular at former state-owned enterprises recently put under private management. Despite ongoing doubts, the SSC will meet the proposed December 31 deadline to set up trading centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Market confidence is seen as pivotal to the successful operation of the market. Bui Nguyen Hoan - chief representative of the SSC in Ho Chi Minh City - said the market was unable to properly assess the asset base and profit potential of companies seeking to list on the exchange. 'At present, share prices are determined [only by negotiation] between buyers and sellers,' he told the Saigon Times magazine. '[There is] no independent rating company to date to assess potential risks.' Mr Hoan said trading opportunities already existed in Vietnam in the form of commodities, recently issued government bonds, and shares in 46 commercial banks and 200 companies. He said another big problem threatening the exchange's timely opening was a lack of qualified dealers. Vietnam has only one securities company, but it is yet to receive a trading licence because staff have not qualified for professional certification.