Vietnam, Switzerland celebrate 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations

06:00 | 11/08/2021 Cooperation

(VEN) - Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Since they were launched in October 1971, Vietnamese-Swiss relations have developed strongly, extending beyond the political and the multilateral sphere to technical and economic cooperation, trade and investment, research and science, culture, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

Good relationships

Switzerland currently ranks 19th among countries directly investing in Vietnam, with direct investment totaling US$1.75 billion as of 2020 with 152 valid projects. Some 140 Swiss enterprises operate in Vietnam, providing about 20,000 jobs in the country.

vietnam switzerland celebrate 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations
Introducing investment opportunities in Vietnam to Swiss investors

Bilateral trade grew 15-20 percent annually. In 2020, despite the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide and disrupted supply chains in both Europe and Asia, bilateral trade reached US$13.6 billion, and Vietnam exported US$2.2 billion more than it imported from Switzerland. Vietnam has become Switzerland’s fourth largest trade partner in ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Since 1991, the Swiss government has provided assistance totaling US$655.9 billion for Vietnam's socioeconomic development. Since 2020, the two countries have been promoting research cooperation through Vietnam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development. The two countries regularly exchange delegations and conduct high-level contacts at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) assembly in Davos.

Switzerland assisted Vietnam greatly in joining the World Trade Organization, marking an important milestone for Vietnam in boosting its international integration and development. Vietnam and Switzerland support each other within the framework of international organizations and international multilateral forums such as the United Nations, ASEAN, and the Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM).

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung said Vietnam will continue to improve its business environment to further enhance economic development and create more favorable conditions for foreign investors.

Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam Ivo Sieber said, “Vietnam’s remarkable progress combined with Switzerland’s long-term engagement resulted in a partnership that makes me proud to look back and confident for the future.” Building a good working partnership is very important, especially in the context of the pandemic, and cooperation will help economies overcome difficulties, he said. Switzerland will continue to support and help Vietnam in building a better business and investment environment, the ambassador added.

Promoting economic cooperation

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Vietnamese-Swiss diplomatic relations, Swiss Vice President Ignazio Cassis will pay an official visit to Vietnam in August, during which the Swiss side is expected to announce its 2021-2024 strategy for economic development cooperation with Vietnam. Swiss Ambassador Sieber said the strategy has two main goals – helping Vietnam build a market-oriented economy with efficient economic frameworks, and enabling the private sector to access and participate in the global supply chain.

vietnam switzerland celebrate 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations
Footwear is a major Vietnamese export to Switzerland

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung highly rated the strategy and assessed it will greatly help Vietnam recover in the post-Covid-19 period, with major beneficiaries including small and medium-sized enterprises. “97.5 percent of enterprises in Vietnam are small and medium sized, and the strategy will be a big challenge and opportunity for them to improve capability and levels to participate in the global supply chain,” Hung said.

Within the framework of the Swiss 2021-2024 strategy for economic development cooperation with Vietnam, Switzerland is expected to provide Vietnam with a grant or non-refundable aid worth US$75 million within the next four years. This support is designed to mainly help develop trade, including improvement of trade pact negotiation capability and help Vietnam's small and medium sized enterprises participate in exports.

Thu Thuy