Switzerland, Viet Nam have a lot to win from working together: Ambassador Ivo Sieber
|Swiss Ambassador to Viet Nam Ivo Sieber (right) and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at Geneva Conference Room.|
He added that that is also why there is a strong willingness on both sides to now soon conclude the negotiations for a progressive Free Trade Agreement between Viet Nam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
According to the diplomat, an FTA, integrating modern elements from recent FTAs concluded separately by both Viet Nam and EFTA, would bolster the potential for increased bilateral economic cooperation, offering new export opportunities for businesses on both sides and favoring foreign direct investments in Viet Nam.
The ambassador noted that with over 100 Swiss companies present and some 20, 000 jobs created in Viet Nam, Swiss direct investment in the Southeast Asian country currently amounts to over 2 billion USD, and there remains room for far more. Within ASEAN, Switzerland ranks as the 9th most important foreign investor, and in Viet Nam, it is at the 19th position. So, there is a major potential to be leveraged here, he said.
Sieber pointed to other areas of cooperation, including development, education, science and innovation. According to him, the Swiss Government continues to offer development cooperation grants; implementation of the SECO 2021-24 cooperation strategy, supporting economic development in Viet Nam, started this year. Also from 2021 on, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Viet Nam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) for the first time jointly support 10 teams of Swiss and Vietnamese researchers carrying out projects in a vast range of disciplines, including environmental sciences, health sciences, the circular economy and other topics aimed at supporting innovation in both countries. As a follow-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Switzerland and Viet Nam both want to implement their commitments and reach their net-zero carbon emissions targets on time.
Furthermore, Switzerland’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2023-2024 opens up possibilities for more joint work and cooperation towards strengthening multilateralism and the respect of international law, which are vital principles for Viet Nam and Switzerland’s prosperity, the ambassador said.
Looking back at celebrations of the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, the ambassador highlighted the two high-level visits which took place in both directions: first, the visit of Swiss Vice President Ignazio Cassis to Ha Noi in early August, and then the visit of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Berne in late November.
“Such visits are extremely valuable; they allow decision-makers from our two countries to further strengthen the friendship and trustful relation we share and to exchange directly, with the aim of opening new paths for enhanced cooperation and putting aside obstacles”, he said.
According to him, despite COVID-19 pandemic, a number of activities celebrating the anniversary were held this year in the two countries, including the “Viet Nam Days” in Switzerland in October and illumination of Landmark 81 building in Ho Chi Minh City in August.
He added that the inauguration and handover of the “Geneva Conference Room”, a gift of the Swiss Government, to the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam in November, will stay as a reminder of this jubilee year and live on as a symbol of “Geneva spirit” aimed at fostering constructive problem-solving and peaceful inclusive discussions.