Switzerland is supporting the transition and development process in Vietnam. Although an emerging nation in economic terms, its trade with Switzerland is continuously increasing. Vietnam's wish to strengthen bilateral relations was underlined by the opening of an embassy in Bern in 2000.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Since 1995 Vietnam has been one of the key recipient countries of Swiss development aid. Since 2008, Vietnam has also been one of the seven priority countries for economic development cooperation carried out under the lead management of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Switzerland has been conducting a human rights dialogue with the Vietnamese government.
Since the beginning of 2011, Vietnam is regarded by international financial institutions as middle-income country. As a result, Switzerland has been refocusing its support inclusive and sustainable economic growth to improve the lives of the Vietnamese people. Bilateral trade between Switzerland and Vietnam has increased steadily over the last two decades. 2016 saw a 37% increase of the bilateral trade volume to over 2 billion Swiss francs, making Vietnam Switzerland’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia after Singapore. A free trade agreement holding the potential to further boost bilateral trade relations is currently being negotiated between EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) and Vietnam.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists from Vietnam can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SEFRI) for a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship.
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland and Vietnam hold an annual human rights dialogue since 1997. The last round of the dialogue took place in Bern on the 17 and 18 October 2016
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Swiss Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam was initiated in 1992 and supported the country successfully in its development for over 25 years. Due to Vietnam’s rapid socio-economic development over the past two decades, Switzerland’s support is currently focusing on economic development cooperation implemented by the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO). For the period 2017-2020, Vietnam benefits from a significant number of programmes with foreseen commitments of CHF 80 million of ODA grants in the following areas:
Swiss nationals in Vietnam
At the end of 2016, there were 610 Swiss nationals living in Vietnam, 271 of whom had dual citizenship
History of bilateral relations
In 2000, Vietnam opened an embassy in Bern. The first official visit of a Swiss President took place in August 2008. In 2016, Vietnam and Switzerland celebrated 45 years of diplomatic relations.
After the war in Indochina came to an end in 1954, the peace negotiations were held in Geneva. Until the outbreak of the Vietnam War, Switzerland already maintained relations with the non-communist South. During the Vietnam War, Switzerland provided humanitarian aid both in South Vietnam and in North Vietnam. In 1971 – before the end of the war – Switzerland established diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Switzerland was one of the first western countries to do so.
In 1926 Switzerland opened a consulate in Saigon, and in 1958 a general consulate.