Vietnam. During the summer, the judgments in Vietnam's
biggest corruption scandal so far - a credit business in the
mid-1990s, fell. Of the 77 defendants, six were sentenced to
death, six to life imprisonment and the others to between
two and twenty years in prison. Critics said the
government's purpose in the trial was to show the outside
world that they were fighting corruption in the country. At
the same time, they continued to imprison party members and
leaders who openly accused corruption.
After three years of negotiations, an agreement was
reached in principle with the US in July to restore normal
trade relations. That meant another step forward in the
relationship with the former enemy: the US trade embargo was
lifted in 1994 and diplomatic relations were re-established
in 1995. In October, Vietnam had not yet signed the
agreement. This was probably due to opposition from the
conservative Falun within the ruling Communist Party and the
army, which opposes the further opening and liberalization
of Vietnam's economy as the agreement entails.
In September, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
visited the capital Hanoi. She teaches have urged Vietnam to
accelerate the economic reform process, a claim also voiced
by Vietnam's largest donor at a conference in the port city
of Haiphong in June. The donors also expressed their concern
over Vietnam's increasing dependency on aid.
Countryaah official website, Prime Minister Phan Văn Khai visited Sweden in the fall.
The purpose was partly to express Vietnam's gratitude for
Sweden's support for Vietnam over the past 30 years, and
partly to promote economic relations between the countries.
Swedish exports to Vietnam increased sharply during the
1990s, especially between 1992 and 1997.
In the spring, around one and a half million people in
central and northern Vietnam were reported to be starving
due to a long period of drought and flooding in 1998. The
situation worsened further at the end of the year as heavy
rainfall hit central Vietnam. The worst floods of the
century demanded hundreds of lives, hundreds of thousands of
people were faced with acute food shortages and large rice
areas were destroyed.