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).
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. With approximately one hundred companies active in Vietnam, Switzerland is one of the larger European investors in the country. The trade volume between the two countries reached CHF 3,3 billion in 2020. 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
Switzerland is part of the G4 Embassies, with Canada, New-Zealand, and Norway – working together to foster a constructive dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities on Human Rights.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Between 1991 and 2020, the Swiss Government has disbursed - via its different agencies in charge of development and economic cooperation as well as humanitarian aid - over CHF 600 million (nearly VND 15 trillion) to support Vietnam’s development. The initial focus of Swiss development cooperation in Vietnam was on reducing poverty - via support to rural development, local governance, citizen’s participation and access to justice. After 2016, the focus has shifted to the promotion of reliable and coherent business conditions and the support of Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises to help them comply with international standards and do business internationally. Steady transversal issues have been and remain inclusivity and sustainability. Swiss humanitarian support is an ongoing feature, with assistance last offered to flood victims of Central Vietnam after the autumn 2020 storms and cyclones.
Swiss citizens in Vietnam
In 2020, 681 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 2021, Switzerland and Vietnam celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.