BERN — Vietnamese President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Swiss President Guy Parmeli on Friday held talks during his official visit to Switzerland as the two countries mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year (October 11, 1971 – October 11, 2021).
President Phúc noted with gratitude how Switzerland was the first European country to have recognised and set up diplomatic relations with Việt Nam in 1971 when the war in Việt Nam still raged on, laying “the first stones” in building the friendship between the two countries, and to this day, Switzerland is among the countries providing the most development assistance to Việt Nam.
President Phúc and his Swiss counterpart concurred that during the past half-century, the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries had been flourishing in various fields, especially in politics-diplomacy, economy, trade and investment, development cooperation, and science-technology.
In the spirit of mutual trust and understanding, the two leaders discussed and reached a general consensus on specific measures to elevate the Việt Nam-Switzerland ties to a level commensurate with the potential of both countries.
The two leaders agreed to strengthen high-level exchanges, as well as contact between the ministries, branches and localities, through which mutual understanding and trust can be fostered.
President Guy Parmelin emphasised Việt Nam as an important economic partner of Switzerland in Southeast Asia. Bilateral trade hit a record of US$3.6 billion in 2019.
With more than 100 Swiss businesses operating effectively in Việt Nam with a total investment capital of nearly US$2 billion, Switzerland is currently ranked 20th out of 140 countries and territories investing in Việt Nam and that there is still great cooperation potential to be fostered.
Phúc suggested Switzerland encourage its businesses to invest in Việt Nam, and affirmed that Việt Nam was making efforts to improve its business and investment environment, towards transparency and convenience to enable foreign businesses, including ones from Switzerland, to have long-term operations in Việt Nam, especially in fields where Switzerland has strengths such as finance, banking, insurance, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries.
President Phúc and President Guy agreed that the two sides would make efforts to soon conclude the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement between Việt Nam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which comprises of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, to help advance bilateral ties.
The two leaders noted that, as Việt Nam is implementing its socio-economic development strategy towards 2030, with science and technology playing a key role, and given that Switzerland is strong in innovation and digital transformation fields, the two should cooperate more deeply in terms of science and technology, education and training, towards establishing an innovation partnership.
2021 also marked the 30th anniversary of Switzerland development cooperation programme in Việt Nam, President Phúc thanked Switzerland for the valuable ODA, with a focus on training human resources, urban development, poverty alleviation, rural development, which have helped Việt Nam complete ahead of time many UN Millennium Goals.
The Swiss leader said Việt Nam had been a partner who had been making good and effective use of its ODA, and for this, the Swiss Government decided to continue to prioritise the provision of 70 million Swiss francs (CHF) to Việt Nam from now until 2024, with a focus on environmental protection and economic reform.
President Phúc thanked Switzerland for the donation of medical supplies worth US$5 million to help Việt Nam fight COVID-19 during Swiss Vice President Ignazio Casis’ visit to Việt Nam in August, which demonstrates the spirit of unity and solidarity. On this note, he urged the two countries to boost cooperation in development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine and medicines.
Both leaders highly appreciated the role of the Vietnamese community in Switzerland in bolstering the bilateral ties. President Phúc requested Switzerland to continue to create favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community here to integrate into the society, contribute to local development and the two countries’ friendship.
President Phúc and President Guy agreed that the two countries would strengthen cooperation and support for each other at multilateral forums and international organisations such as the United Nations.
Việt Nam agreed to support, and would be more than willing to act as the ‘bridge’ connecting Switzerland and ASEAN.
Regarding the South China Sea issue, the Swiss leader highlighted the importance of ensuring freedom of navigation, compliance with international law, and handling of disputes based on transparent dialogues, and the need to build trust and confidence. — VNS
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