Switzerland and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1971. Vietnam, as an economically emerging country, has seen a large and rapid increase in its trade with Switzerland. Switzerland is supporting the transition process in Vietnam and the country’s effort to develop its economy. In order to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, Switzerland opened a consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2015.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Vietnam
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1971. Bilateral relations have become closer in recent years. Since 2011, the two countries have conducted a regular political dialogue. In addition, since 2008 Vietnam has been one of the eight priority countries of Swiss economic development and cooperation carried out by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Switzerland is also conducting a human rights dialogue with the Vietnamese government.
Furthermore, Switzerland also cooperates with Vietnam within the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Switzerland became sectoral dialogue partner in July 2016.
Vietnam is a promising market for Switzerland. The trade volume between the two countries reached almost CHF 2 billion in 2016, an increase of 36.5% over the previous year. With approximately one hundred companies active in Vietnam, Switzerland is one the largest European investors in the country. Negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member, and Vietnam have been under way since 2012.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Vietnam can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
In 1997, Switzerland and Vietnam agreed to conduct a human rights dialogue on an annual basis. The last round took place in December 2017.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Between 1992 and 2016, Vietnam was a priority country for development cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). During these 25 years, the SDC funded more than 32 programmes with a total of CHF 216 million. After Vietnam achieved middle-income-country status in 2010, the SDC gradually wound down its activities in favour of economic development and cooperation carried out by SECO. However, Vietnam continues to benefit from regional programmes within the framework of the FDFA’s Mekong Region Cooperation Strategy in the areas of climate change, water, and food security. Vietnam is a priority country of Swiss economic development and cooperation conducted by SECO, whose activities aim to develop inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
The SECO programme of economic development and cooperation for the 2017–20 period provides for a total budget of approximately CHF 80 million centred on the following three main axes:
- Promoting economic policy and efficient institutions;
- Raising the competitiveness of the private sector;
- Encouraging sustainable urban development.
Two regional specialists in disaster risk reduction and disaster management have been based in Bangkok since 2013 to support SDC projects in South East Asia and the Pacific region and to respond rapidly to natural disasters in both regions. The two specialists are also helping ASEAN to step up its disaster risk management and rapid response capabilities.
Swiss citizens in Vietnam
In 2017, 679 Swiss citizens were living in Vietnam.
History of bilateral relations
Following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971, Switzerland opened an embassy in Hanoi in 1973. Vietnam opened an embassy in Bern in 2000, and Switzerland a consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City in 2015. The first official visit by a president of the Swiss Confederation to Vietnam took place in August 2008. Since September 2011, Switzerland and Vietnam meet on an annual basis to conduct a political dialogue. In 2016, Switzerland and Vietnam celebrated 45 years of diplomatic relations.