DELOITTE Touche Tohmatsu International is to set up a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City to service its clients investing in Vietnam. The global accounting and auditing, management consulting and tax services firm applied to have the office established after the US Treasury Department granted approval for the move in June. ''We are setting up the office because we have more than 600 clients worldwide with either sales or assets of over US$1 billion going into the [Vietnamese] market,'' said David Tong, Deloitte's director for the Asia-Pacific region. Deloitte, which plans an office later in Hanoi, would provide its clients with advice on tax, auditing and investment advisory services, he said. The firm is the first of the ''Big Six'' accountants to be granted approval by the US Treasury Department for an office in Vietnam. ''The rapid pace of progress in Vietnam and international investment in the country will only accelerate in the months and years ahead,'' Mr Tong said, adding that Deloitte hoped to play an important and expanding role in the country's economic development. Mr Tong said once the US trade embargo on Vietnam was lifted, the country, with a population of 70 million, would develop quickly. Vietnam had the potential to compete with Indonesia and even with southern China due to its cheap labour and land, he said. The labour cost in Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding areas was between US$50 and $100 a month and less than $50 a month in the outlying provinces, Mr Tong said. South Vietnam had a competitive advantage over other areas because it provided cheap raw materials and its population had a literacy rate of 85 to 90 per cent, he said. Mr Tong said multinational companies would initially develop manufacturing facilities for export and when the local economy had better purchasing power, would produce goods for the domestic market. In 1991, Deloitte became the first accounting firm to work with a Vietnamese state enterprise seeking privatisation.