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Nov 26, 2021 / 23:20

EFTA – spotlight in Vietnamese President’s visit to Switzerland

The agreement has so far reached the 16th negotiation round.

Presidents of Vietnam and Switzerland said today that the two countries agreed to finalize negotiations of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) of which Switzerland is a member.

Vietnam's President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and Switzerland's President Guy Parmelin in Bern on Nov 26. Photos: VNA 

Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Swiss President Guy Parmelin said at a press conference after the talks in Bern on November 26.

Parmelin said that Vietnam is Switzerland’s 3rd largest trade partner in ASEAN after Singapore and Thailand and Vietnam is a priority country in Switzerland’s economic cooperation policy.

He stated that the goal in the support program of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) is to help Vietnam’s economy develop more inclusively and sustainably.

Efforts for the conclusion of a free trade agreement are a significant part of the ongoing visit to Bern paid by Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

A progressive free trade agreement would result in mutual benefits and boost Swiss investments into Vietnam.

Launched in 2012, the negotiations cover a comprehensive range of topics, including trade in goods, rules of origin, trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, trade in services, investment/establishment, protection of intellectual property, government procurement, competition, trade and sustainable development, and legal and institutional issues.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is the intergovernmental organization of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. It was set up in 1960 by its then seven Member States for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its members.

During the talk, President Parmelin also looked forward to engaging discussions geared towards the next 50 and more years of friendly and dynamic bilateral relations.

Regarding official development assistance (ODA), Switzerland decided to provide an additional CHF70 million (US$75.6 million) to Vietnam in 2021-2024, focusing on environmental protection and economic reforms.

 The two presidents at Lohn Manor palace.

Business Summit

 Business Summit will be one of the most important activities during the four-day visit.

Co-chaired by President Phuc and his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin, the event is expected to enable leaders and businesses of the two countries to exchange ideas to improve the regulatory framework for better bilateral trade and investment, according to the Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam, Ivo Sieber.

In terms of trade and investment, Switzerland is one of Vietnam’s most important partners in Europe. Room for further economic ties remains large.

In 2019, the two-way trade reached US$3.6 billion.

So far, about 140 Swiss companies, including multinational ones like Nestle, ABB, Novartis, Roche, and Holcim, are operating in Vietnam, listing Switzerland as the 6th largest European investor in the country of 100 million people.

During the visit to Switzerland on November 26-29, President Phuc is scheduled to meet President of the National Council Andreas Aebi.

The Vietnamese president will meet Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Daren Tang, in addition with meetings with heads of Bern and Geneva. 

 The two presidents at the meeting in Bern.