Magazine article New Internationalist

Loser Takes All: High Price of Victory Paid by Hanoi

Magazine article New Internationalist

Loser Takes All: High Price of Victory Paid by Hanoi

Article excerpt

TWENTY years ago victorious Vietcong troops marched into Saigon as the last American soldiers and government officials were hastily evacuated from the roof of the US Embassy. But did the North Vietnamese really win the war? Judging by the results today it doesn't look that way.

At a conference held in Paris in 1993 Western governments generously pledged nearly two billion dollars in loans and aid money to support free-market reforms in Vietnam. But the money did not come without strings. In return Hanoi agreed to reimburse $140 million in arrears on loans owed to the IMF by the defeated Saigon regime as a condition for the resumption of new loans. Japan and France formed a so-called 'Friends of Vietnam' committee to lend Hanoi the cash to reimburse the IMF.

The major result of the Paris meeting-the rescheduling of the bilateral debts of the Saigon regime-was kept secret. But Hanoi's signing of this deal was ultimately instrumental in Washington's decision to lift its embargo and normalize trade relations. The irony is that by agreeing to repay debts incurred by the former US-backed government in the Saigon, Hanoi is actually paying back loans which were used to support the US war effort against its own forces. …

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