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Vietnam Today

Swiss Federal Councillor in Vietnam

Released at: 08:38, 09/04/2018

Swiss Federal Councillor in Vietnam

Permanent Vice Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem (R) and Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard (Source: VNA)

Ms. Doris Leuthard concentrated activities in HCMC on April 6 after visiting Hanoi.

by Van Chi

Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard, Head (Minister) of Switzerland’s Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, made an official visit to Ho Chi Minh City on April 6, according to a press release from the Consulate General of Switzerland. 

The minister was accompanied by senior officials and a high-level business delegation from various industries in Switzerland.

According to a report from the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), Permanent Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem hosted a reception on the same day for Ms. Leuthard and her delegation.

Speaking highly of Switzerland’s role in negotiating a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, Mr. Liem expressed his belief that both sides will soon complete negotiations to facilitate bilateral trade.

He said the city is building a high-tech energy system to ensure rapid and sustainable development and is calling on domestic and foreign firms to turn waste into energy.

The host suggested clean water supply, transportation and seaports as potential fields of cooperation for mutual benefit.

He affirmed that the city supports the issuance of e-visas for Swiss aircrew and citizens, especially in the context of Zurich - Ho Chi Minh City direct flights opening late this year.

Ms. Leuthard, for her part, expressed her hope that the Vietnam - EFTA free trade agreement would be signed in late 2018.

Swiss enterprises are experienced in building smart cities and wish to work with the city on sub-component projects involving energy, transportation, seaports, clean water supply, smart technology and sewage treatment.

She hopes to receive the city’s support in e-visa issuance to facilitate aviation, tourism and trade between the two countries.

Meanwhile, at a high-level roundtable meeting presided by the Federal Councilor and Mr. Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, the Swiss delegation and representatives of the city’s Smart City steering committee shared views and experiences with regard to Smart City projects in Switzerland and the city, thus providing opportunities for further cooperation between the two sides in various fields.

During her stay, Ms. Leuthard also visited the Saigon Hi Tech Park and had a meeting with the business community.

The official visit underlines the importance of the southern economic hub and Swiss interest in further strengthening economic cooperation as well as bilateral trade and investment, according to the press release.

Earlier, during a stay in Hanoi, Ms. Leuthard attended a high-level forum on April 4 co-organized by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Swiss Embassy in Vietnam, which discussed the potential for cooperation between Vietnam and Switzerland towards green development, according to VNA.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung told the forum that the Swiss Government has supported private sector development in Vietnam, particularly in optimizing the use of natural resources and translating the concept of clean production into reality.

He expressed his belief about the potential for bilateral partnerships in green growth, based on fruitful political, diplomatic, and economic relations.

He also noted that the two countries had agreed to focus their cooperation during 2017-2020 on building effective economic institutions and policies, fostering a competitive and efficient private sector, and promoting sustainable urban development adaptive to climate change.

Ms. Leuthard suggested Vietnam study and apply methods to mobilize resources for green growth from the community and businesses.

Swiss participants shared their experiences on building a clean and green economy, mobilizing resources for the process, and lessons that could be applied for developing countries like Vietnam.

According to figures from the Swiss Customs Administration, combined trade value between Vietnam and Switzerland reached $2.1 billion in 2017. Switzerland exported goods to Vietnam worth $640 million last year, primarily pharmaceuticals, machinery, optical instruments, medical technology, and watches. Vietnam’s exports to Switzerland totaled $1.48 billion.

Switzerland ranks as the fourth-largest European investor in Vietnam. Some 100 Swiss companies are operating in Vietnam, employing over 20,000 people. More than 80 are doing business in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces.

They have invested in various sectors, with the most important projects being in food processing, construction, manufacturing, and hotel/tourism.

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