Ignazio Cassis's trip to Vietnam will focus on strengthening economic ties between the two countries. The head of the FDFA will meet with Vietnam's vice president Vo Thi Anh Xuan and foreign minister Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi on 5 August. Mr Cassis will use this opportunity to launch the new cooperation strategy of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for the period 2021–24. The visit also marks the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Vietnam.
30 years of development cooperation
Vietnam, as an economically emerging country, has seen a large and rapid increase in its trade with Switzerland. A brief look back at the history of Switzerland's international cooperation in Vietnam illustrates how the country has evolved during this period. From 1991 onwards, Swiss support focused on poverty reduction. In 2016, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) ended its long-term bilateral development cooperation with Vietnam as the country had been recategorised as a lower middle-income country. Many SDC projects have made a real impact in the country. For example, 25,000 families have seen their incomes grow through better marketing of key products from Vietnamese agriculture, such as spices, bamboo and tea. In addition, Swiss involvement helped bring about a participatory democracy, at least in the regions in which the SDC was operating.
SECO's new cooperation strategy
In the meantime, through SECO, Switzerland promotes reliable and stable economic framework conditions, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and access to international markets. This is also reflected in SECO's new cooperation strategy, which builds on past achievements. The strategy's main objective is to achieve sustainable growth and economic prosperity that is increasingly supported by private sector initiatives. The strategy's focus areas include strengthening public finance administration and modernising the financial sector.