|Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. — Photo EPA/VNA |Viet Nam News
GENEVA – Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann has expressed his hope that the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Việt Nam will conclude negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement within the next few months despite certain difficulties at present.
In a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency, the President said as a member of the EFTA, Switzerland expected the FTA would be a booster for trade between Việt Nam and Switzerland as well as other European countries.
According to him, the visit to Việt Nam on October 11 by Minister of State for Economic Affairs Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen Fleisch demonstrated Switzerland’s interest in developing ties, particularly in commerce, with Việt Nam.
President Schneider-Ammann noted that bilateral economic ties remained modest at the moment, with Swiss investment in Việt Nam standing at nearly US$2 billion in 99 projects. At the same time, he underlined development aid as a key component of bilateral cooperation during the past years.
Since 1992, Switzerland has provided $470 million in development aid, mostly grants, to Việt Nam.
Development will continue to be an important part of the Việt Nam-Switzerland development cooperation strategy for the 2017-20 period, which was announced during Minister of State for Economic Affairs Ineichen Freisch’s visit.
Under the strategy, Switzerland committed to providing 90 million CHF ($92 million) of non-refundable ODA for Việt Nam to implement joint projects in the three main areas – supporting the promotion of institution and economic policies, assisting the building of a competitive and effective private economic sector, and backing the sustainable urban development and climate change response.
In the time ahead, Switzerland would continue to pay attention to further promoting economic co-operation with Việt Nam and deepening the relationship between the two countries on the foundation of the political ties built over nearly half a century, President Schneider-Ammann said.
He added that in the economic partnership with Việt Nam, Switzerland would focus on helping Việt Nam improve public finance management, the financial system’s capacity and small- and medium-sized enterprises’ access to capital. Priority would also be given to raising environmental standards, promoting the effective use of natural resources, clean production and sustainable development of trade, and bettering urban planning and public services. — VNS