Switzerland is active in Laos primarily in the domain of development cooperation, for which it privileges a multilateral approach. Trade relations between the two countries are feeble.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Laos
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
In the autumn of 2006, the new Cooperation Office opened in Vientiane, making it possible to rapidly develop the cooperation program in Laos. In this way, Switzerland strengthened its development cooperation that had been going on since the mid-1990s with the Laotian government.
Since the summer of 2012, the Regional Consular Centre in Bangkok (Thailand) has been responsible for all consular matters.
Despite the rise in trade that began in the 1990s, commercial relations with Laos still remain marginal. Swiss exports to Laos consist of pharmaceutical products and machines, while Swiss imports from Laos primarily concern textiles.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Scholars and artists from Laos can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Since 1995, Switzerland has been providing support to the country by means of its Mekong Regional Program, that is steered from the Coof in Vientiane. A project aimed at research for new sorts of rice contributed to enabling Laos to become self-sufficient in rice production.
In addition, the SDC is backing operations to remove unexploded war materials dating from the time of the Vietnam war, as well as supporting the reforms of the public administration that were launched by the government.
Swiss nationals in Laos
There were 131 Swiss nationals resident in Laos at the end of 2011.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognized Laos in 1957. In 1963, the two countries established diplomatic relations, which are today maintained by the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok (Thailand).