While contacts in the past focused on Swiss development aid, cooperation is now thriving in a wide range of fields. The two countries have been engaged in regular political dialogue since 2011. A central topic of the official visit was the free trade agreement that Vietnam is negotiating with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). President Parmelin and President Phúc underlined their support for a speedy conclusion of negotiations and emphasised the opportunities for closer economic exchange.
Vietnam is Switzerland's third most important trading partner from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Singapore and Thailand. The bilateral trade volume amounted to CHF 3.2 billion last year. Swiss companies invested around CHF 1 billion in Vietnam by the end of 2019 and created around 20,000 jobs. Vietnam is also a priority country for economic cooperation and development of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). For the period from 2021 to 2024, CHF 70 million has been earmarked to help Vietnam make its economy more sustainable and inclusive.
A further topic on the agenda was cooperation in science and research. Mr Parmelin stressed the importance of human rights and especially freedom of expression to ensure prosperity, creativity and innovation. The two sides also exchanged views on the development of the pandemic, cooperation at the international level and other multilateral issues.
A business summit with representatives from both countries was scheduled to take place in Bern in the afternoon, also attended by President Parmelin and President Phúc.
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