President's visit to Switzerland: A timely opportunity to strengthen dynamic cooperation

On the occasion of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc's official visit to Switzerland, Swiss Ambassador to Viet Nam Ivo Sieber shared his expectation about the opportunities that will open up between the two countries through the visit.
President's visit to Switzerland: A timely opportunity to strengthen dynamic cooperation
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin in Bern city on November 26. (Photo: VNA)

How do you evaluate the significance of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s official visit to Switzerland, especially after the official visit to Viet Nam by the Swiss Vice President? What do you expect from this visit?

After last August’s visit by Swiss Vice-President Ignazio Cassis to Ha Noi, the upcoming visit of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Berne is yet another great opportunity in this jubilee year to further strengthen diplomatic ties and enhance the dynamic cooperation between our two countries.

Swiss President Guy Parmelin very much looks forward to welcoming his counterpart from Viet Nam, shortly after their last meeting on the margins of the High-Level Segment of the 76th UN General Assembly in New York last September.

The visit of President Phuc provides a timely opportunity for the two countries to demonstrate their political will and interest in wrapping up negotiations for a progressive and mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) between Viet Nam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA – including Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

A FTA, integrating elements from recent FTAs concluded separately by both Viet Nam and EFTA, would clearly enhance the potential for increased bilateral economic cooperation, offering new export opportunities for businesses on both sides and favoring foreign direct investments in Viet Nam. An institutionalized framework and effective legal safeguards for investors are key considerations for any investors interested in venturing abroad.

Switzerland and Viet Nam are moving towards a strong economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and facing many common challenges such as climate change. In your opinion, what areas of cooperation do Switzerland and Viet Nam need to focus on?

The post-COVID economic recovery is obviously a priority for the whole world, including for Switzerland and Viet Nam.

Switzerland very much welcomes recent pledges made by Viet Nam’s Prime Minister, which include incorporating proposals from foreign business associations in policy guidelines to improve the investment and business climate in Viet Nam, setting up a special task force to resolve difficulties encountered by enterprises and protecting investors' legal rights and interests.

In the context of the visit, Switzerland will also be organizing a Business Summit to allow both countries’ Presidents and officials, as well as business associations and companies to exchange with each other and contribute to improving the framework conditions for steadily increasing economic cooperation.

Other promising areas for cooperation include education as well as research, science and innovation. Currently, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Viet Nam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) already support 10 teams of Swiss and Vietnamese researchers to carry out joint projects in different disciplines.

As a follow-up to the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, climate change will also be high up on the agenda. Here, Swiss development cooperation with Viet Nam supports both efforts to reach the net-zero carbon emissions target as well as to adapt to climate change. For example, a comprehensive adaptation project funded by the Swiss government aims at reducing flood risks in urban core areas of Can Tho.

Last but not least, Switzerland’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2023-2024 also opens up new possibilities of cooperation towards strengthening multilateralism and the respect of international law. Switzerland is interested in exchanging with Viet Nam on its experiences as a successful UNSC member during 2020-2021.

President's visit to Switzerland: Great opportunity to strengthen dynamic cooperation
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son with Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber at the Geneva Conference Room. (Photo: Swiss Embassy in Viet Nam)

The Geneva Conference Room has been inaugurated at the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam (DAV). Could you please tell us about the significance of the event, especially in the context that Switzerland and Viet Nam have made efforts to contribute to world peace?

Indeed, Dr. Pham Lan Dung, Acting President of the DAV, and I on 24 November jointly inaugurated the Geneva Conference Room, located in the newly-constructed DAV building.

The Swiss-designed Geneva Conference Room reflects the city’s natural surroundings with the lake of Geneva and its mountain scenery. It will be mainly used for academic conferences, including DAV’s annual South China Sea Conference, as well as high-level meetings, including exchanges with visiting foreign officials and scholars.

The room carries special symbolism and offers an inspiring connection between Geneva and Ha Noi. As European headquarters of the UN since 1945, Geneva is the operational heart of the multilateral system.

The city also earned itself the title of capital of peace, acting as a place of dialogue, including for UN- or Swiss-facilitated peace conferences and processes. Geneva’s open mind and spirit, allowing for inclusive debates among people of different views and opinions, will hopefully contribute to nurturing constructive discussions also here in Ha Noi.

This conference room marks another milestone in Swiss-Vietnamese cooperation and augurs well for the future.

Thank you very much!

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Thu Trang