Economic and trade policy measures

Between now and 2020, 600 million new jobs need to be created for young people who will reach working age in developing countries during that time.
Between now and 2020, 600 million new jobs need to be created for young people who will reach working age in developing countries during that time. © Monika Gysin, OBVIAM

Switzerland helps countries create the structural conditions that will make it possible to fully exploit the potential of the private sector to fight poverty. Central importance is attached to sustainable growth that benefits all levels of society.

Economic and trade measures for fighting poverty have taken on ever greater importance in recent years. While in the 1990s the majority of the world's poor lived in the lowest income countries, today seven out of ten people living in extreme poverty are found in middle income countries.

Compounded with this is the growing income inequality in these countries. Global risks, such as climate change, economic and financial crises, or political instability, further aggravate the existing problems.

Thematic priorities

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which is responsible for Switzerland's economic and trade policy measures in development cooperation, promotes sustainable growth that benefits people at all levels of society and that is in keeping with the terms of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The economic and trade measures deployed by SECO are targeted towards achieving the following objectives:

  1. Effective institutions and services
  2. More and better jobs
  3. Increased trade and greater competitiveness
  4. Low-emission and climate-resilient economies

A central element of SECO's efforts is cooperation with the private sector, which can make valuable operational and financial contributions to development projects. Other partners, including members of civil society and the academic community, are also closely involved.

Geographical priorities

SECO focuses its efforts on eight middle-income priority countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia and Peru. Many of these partner countries play a key role in both regional and global economic contexts and can thus have a negative or positive influence on entire regions.

In addition to the cooperation with its own partner countries, SECO is also active in the priority countries of other units of the Federal Administration, such as the SDC. SECO brings specific expertise to these units, e.g. in the administration of public funds and the promotion of trade.

In addition, SECO and the SDC provide assistance to countries in Eastern Europe on their path to democracy and a social market economy (cf. framework credit for transition assistance in Eastern Europe).

Better management of public funds

In Peru, SECO is providing over USD 6 million in assistance to the public sector for improvements in financial management so that the country's citizens can receive high-quality services at all levels. Both the finance ministry of Peru and the regional and local governments receive support for budget planning, tax collection and expenditure control. A newly-introduced multi-year budget has made it possible for Peru to increase planning certainty, which has helped to reduce bottlenecks in essential services such as education and health.