Vietnam sent 23,277 guest workers abroad in the first quarter of the year, radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported.

The radio cited figures released by the Department of Overseas Labour (DOLAB) as saying that in March alone, 9,346 were recruited to work abroad.

Taiwan was Vietnam’s labour largest export market in the period, receiving 5,268 workers, followed by Japan (1,156), Malaysia (442), Saudi Arabia (336), Libya (295), the United Arab Emirates (245), Macao (175), Singapore (82) and Belarus (80).

Particularly, an additional 465 Vietnamese workers were employed by Republic of Korean businesses.

As of the end of March, a total of 4,472 workers had returned to the RoK to work. They all had prior experience working in the RoK and returned home on schedule after their work contract expired.

In the reviewed period, the Government decided to extend the imposition of stiffer fines ranging from 80-100 million VND on those who fail to return home on schedule as from March 10, instead of January 10 as previously announced.

This year, around 3,594 workers are scheduled to return from the RoK and the DOLAB is continuing to implement a wide range of programmes aimed at encouraging them to return home on schedule.

The Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs said earlier this year that it will accelerate the sending of skilled workers abroad while consolidating such traditional markets as Taiwan and Japan in 2014.

Statistics released by businesses show that 88,155 Vietnamese labourers went abroad in 2013, 3,000 more than the set target.-VNA