Vietnam and Switzerland Exchange Legislative Experiences

Chairman of the National Assembly, Vuong Dinh Hue, expressed his hope that both sides would continue to hold exchanges between high-level delegations, committees, and parliamentarian friendship groups.

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President of the National Council of Switzerland, Martin Candinas, arrived in Hanoi on June 27 in the afternoon to start his four-day official visit to Vietnam. He received an invitation from National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue.

Participants at the talks. Photo: VNA
Participants at the talks. Photo: VNA

National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue held talks with the President of the National Council of Switzerland, Martin Candinas, after chairing a welcome ceremony for the Swiss leader in Hanoi on June 28, as reported by VNA.

During the talks, Hue reiterated Vietnam’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing its traditional friendship and cooperation with Switzerland. He expressed deep gratitude for Switzerland’s continued support, including the provision of over USD 600 million in official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam from 1991 to 2021. Hue also thanked Switzerland for its assistance in the country’s efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

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He suggested that the two sides should further enhance cooperation and exchange delegations through all channels. He also called for closer coordination at multilateral forums to contribute to peace, stability, and development in the region and the world.

Regarding the two-way trade turnover of approximately USD 810 million last year and Swiss investment in Vietnam worth nearly USD 2 billion, the two leaders acknowledged that these figures do not fully reflect the potential for economic cooperation between the two countries. They agreed to expedite the negotiation process and finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This FTA aims to enhance and diversify bilateral trade and investment, and create more opportunities for businesses in both Vietnam and EFTA member countries.

Candinas emphasized that Switzerland has placed a strong emphasis on promoting investment, trade, technology, and knowledge. As a result, they are optimistic that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be signed in the coming year.

Hue emphasized the ample prospects for collaboration between the two nations in science, technology, education, and climate change adaptation.

He suggested that Switzerland should enhance the number of scholarships available to Vietnamese students and foster collaboration between educational institutions in both countries. Furthermore, he proposed the implementation of joint training programs in various fields such as pharmaceuticals, precision mechanical engineering, tourism, finance, banking, and insurance.

Hue proposed that the parliament and government of Switzerland should work towards creating more conducive conditions for the Vietnamese community to settle down and integrate into Swiss society. This, in turn, would strengthen the friendship between the two nations.

Regarding parliamentary cooperation, Hue expressed hope that both sides would continue to maintain the exchange of delegations at high and all levels, including among parliamentary committees and parliamentarians.

The two sides should continue to cooperate and share experience with each other in law-building activities to create institutions to meet requirements of issues of global concern such as just energy transition, digital transformation, and climate change response, he said.

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and President of the National Council of Switzerland Martin Candinas. Photo: VNA
National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and President of the National Council of Switzerland Martin Candinas. Photo: VNA

The Vietnamese top legislator emphasized the potential for increased consultations, coordination, and mutual support between the two sides at multilateral forums such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF). Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of promoting cooperation among the two Friendship Parliamentarians Groups.

The legislatures of the two countries should collaborate in supervising and expediting the implementation of agreements between the two governments. It is important for Vietnamese and Swiss localities to enhance their connectivity and promote collaboration among elected agencies at the local level.

Hue has pledged that the National Assembly and the Government of Vietnam will work together to create optimal conditions for foreign investors, including those from Switzerland, to engage in long-term business and production activities in Vietnam.

Candinas expressed Switzerland’s support for Vietnam’s commitment at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), emphasizing that both nations share a common objective of sustainable development. Consequently, Switzerland is prepared to collaborate with Vietnam to attain this goal.

Switzerland regards Vietnam as a crucial economic cooperation partner in the region in its foreign policy, stated Thomas Aeschi, the Swiss state secretary for international financial matters. This significant partnership has led to the visit of a high-level Swiss delegation to Vietnam.

Asserting that Vietnam has a dynamic and successful economy that has performed well in hunger eradication and poverty reduction in recent years, the President of the National Council of Switzerland expressed interest in furthering cooperation and economic development between the two countries. Swiss business representatives hope to continue investing in Vietnam and contribute to its ongoing progress in eradicating hunger and reducing poverty.

He expressed that Switzerland aims to enhance investment, trade collaboration, and effective economic cooperation with the objective of assisting Vietnam in its goal of becoming a developed and high-income nation by 2045. Presently, there are approximately 100 Swiss companies in Vietnam, generating employment opportunities for around 120,000 local individuals in the Southeast Asian country.

In gratitude for the warm hospitality and friendship, Chairperson Nationalrat Martin Candinas gifted Chairperson Hue a triptych picture of the opening of the 1954 Geneva Conference – a milestone in the decolonization of Vietnam at which, the DRVN Delegation was led by Foreign Minister Pham Van Dong. Source: Embassy of Switzerland in Vietnam
In gratitude for the warm hospitality and friendship, Chairperson Nationalrat Martin Candinas gifted Chairperson Hue a triptych picture of the opening of the 1954 Geneva Conference – a milestone in the decolonization of Vietnam at which, the DRVN Delegation was led by Foreign Minister Pham Van Dong. Source: Embassy of Switzerland in Vietnam

Switzerland’s confidence in the fruitful development of bilateral relations with Vietnam has been expressed by Candinas. Highlighting the numerous projects and programs that Switzerland has undertaken in Vietnam over the past 30 years, Candinas stated the commitment to further strengthen the cooperation between the two nations in the future.

According to the Swiss leader, Switzerland has been dedicated to enhancing the competitiveness of its businesses and labor productivity. To further understand the working conditions and productivity of local workers, the Swiss delegation is set to visit a garment company during their official visit to Vietnam.

With the signing of an agreement to improve working conditions between the two countries, Candinas expressed his belief that Swiss programs and cooperation will lead to enhanced labor productivity and better working conditions for workers.

The two leaders engaged in a discussion on several international and regional matters of mutual interest, including the issue of the East Sea.

At the talk, Candinas warmly invited Hue to pay an official visit to Switzerland in the near future and his invitation was graciously accepted.

The Vietnamese community in Switzerland has grown to include 8,000 people, with over half of them having obtained Swiss citizenship while still maintaining their Vietnamese nationality. To cater to the needs of this community, the Vietnamese Association in Switzerland and the Switzerland-Vietnam Friendship Association have jointly established Binh Minh School in Zurich, where Vietnamese language classes are offered to members of the community. This initiative aims to preserve and promote the Vietnamese language and culture among the Vietnamese diaspora in Switzerland.

The friendship and cooperation ties between the two legislatures have been steadily strengthening, with a consistent flow of high-level visits and meetings aimed at exchanging experiences and fostering closer relationships.

The Friendship Parliamentarians’ Groups of the two countries were established and carried out various activities to strengthen parliamentary relations and bilateral cooperation.

Hannah Nguyen