Laos faces a bleak short-term economic future as it turns its back on the United States.
GV Vientiane street scenes (2 shots)
GV U.S. Aid compound and workers leaving
SV PAN Barbed wire round compound
SV & GV Anti-U.S. slogan and turndown sign
GV & SV Market with people eating (3 shots)
CU Women counting bundles of money (2 shots)
LV & SV Closed Bank of Indo China (2 shots)
GV & SV Closed National Bank of Laos (2 shots)
GV PAN River bank where smuggling occurs
SV & GV Woman fishing in rice paddy
Initials BB/1600 BA/MR/BB/1545
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Laos faces a bleak short-term economic future as it turns its back on the United States.
The Laotian Government -- now firmly controlled by the pro-Communist Pathet Lao -- has rejected all forms of foreign interference in its affairs. But it needs foreign money to maintain its economy.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S.AID) -- which this year has poured $US 32 million into Laos -- is pulling out of the country, handling its projects over to the new Government.
But, without foreign investment,Laos will be forced to operate a stage economy.
Laos relies heavily on imports of ??? products, food, and a wide range of consumer goods. Its exports amount to only $US 3 million, and to pay for its imports it has looked to the Foreign Exchange Operations Fund (F.E.O.F) to provide foreign currency.
F.E.O.F. is a six-country organisation headed by the U.S. and consisting of Australia, Britain, France, Japan and Laos itself. But, so far this year, there has been no agreement with F.E.O.F. on the provision of funds.
SYNOPSIS: City people in Laos, like these in the capital -- Vientians -- face a bleak economic future following the American withdrawal from Indo China.
The United States Agency for International Development is leaving the country under pressure from the Laotian Government ... now firmly under the control of the pro-Communist Pathet Lao. But it's the Americans, along with the Australians, Japanese, French and British, whose money has supported the Laotian economy. The future of foreign aid is now in doubt.
Anti-American feeling's running high. The Laotians say they want American aid to continue with no strings attached, but the United States Congress has yet to approve more money. Laos relies heavily on imports of petrol, food and consumer goods, but the money to by them comes from abroad.
Last year, the United States and its allies provided 32 million dollars. But -- this year -- they've not yet committed themselves. In April, reserves of foreign currency stood at only six million dollars -- and withdrawals are running at two million dollars a month.
Even smugglers will be affected. This spot's used to transport black-market goods into neighbouring Thailand. There'll be few goods to smuggle from now on. It'll be the people in the cities who suffer most. Country people are largely self-sufficient.