Politics

Political overview

The earliest Swiss-Vietnamese relations reach back into the second half of the nineteenth century. During these early days, the Swiss presence in the region was mainly of economic nature, and consisted of some Swiss trading companies active in the region. Nevertheless, their presence also allowed the establishment of certain official ties from Bern to Indochina later on, resulting in 1926 in the opening of the first Swiss Consulate in former Saigon (nowadays Ho Chi Minh City), the then economic centre of the region. This was followed by the opening of a Consular Agency in the country’s northern seaport of Haiphong in 1935.

Certainly, the relations between Switzerland and Vietnam have not always been easy for either side: after the end of World War II, the whole of Indochina began to free itself from foreign rule, and began to form sovereign nations. In particular, the partition between North and South Vietnam, and the extended absence of a clear and stable regulation due to conflicting foreign and domestic interests, complicated Bern’s relation to the region, and challenged Switzerland’s neutral foreign policy.

During the troubled 1960s, Switzerland experienced an uncomfortable imbalance in its relations with partitioned Vietnam. The Consular Agency in Haiphong had closed in 1955, and the Consulate in Saigon remained the sole Swiss presence in Vietnam. Based on continued informal relations, a rapprochement between Switzerland and the then Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North) led to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971. One year later, this was implemented by the formal opening of the first Swiss Embassy in Hanoi. The changing circumstances in the region provoked a considerable shift of diplomatic priorities, and the Swiss presence in southern Vietnam was abandoned by the end of 1975.

During the 1970s and 1980s, relations between Bern and Hanoi remained friendly, but kept a rather low and formal profile. It is only at the end of the 1980s that fundamental changes in both Europe and Vietnam allowed an intensified political and economic contact, leading to the reopening of the Embassy of Switzerland in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi in 1990 (after having been closed down in the mid-1980s), and the opening of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Bern in 2000.

Nowadays, the bilateral relations between Switzerland and Vietnam are very good and stable. Vietnam has been a major beneficiary of Swiss development cooperation since 1992, and has been the recipient of many Swiss foreign investments. Political relations are free of tensions. Switzerland has a good image in Vietnam, partly due to its long-lasting commitment to peace, which, for example, created the basis for the Conference on Indochina in Geneva in 1954.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, both Switzerland and Vietnam have actively promoted the conclusion of many bilateral treaties focussing on development cooperation and economy.

Hence, the two countries have concluded a large number of bilateral treaties and agreements, including an air transport agreement (1979), an agreement for the promotion and protection of investments (1992), an agreement on trade and economic cooperation (1993), two agreements on the granting of a mixed financing (1993 and 2002), a Convention for the avoidance of double taxation (1996), a framework agreement on technical and financial cooperation (2001), and others.

Recently, Switzerland and Vietnam have again deepened their relations with the conclusion of a bilateral agreement on market access in the framework of Vietnam’s accession process to the WTO (August 2005), and an agreement between the two countries on child adoptions (December 2005).

List of important bilateral visits and meetings

November 2016

Meeting between the President  of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann, and the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Tran Dai Quang, at the 16th Summit of the Francophonie in Madagascar

October 2016

Official visit of the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Mrs. Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen in Vietnam and Celebration of the 45th anniversary  of the establishment  of diplomatic relations between  Switzerland and Vietnam

Official visit of the Vice – Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Mrs. Tong Thi Phong in Bern

July 2016

Meeting between the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Mr Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Federal Councillor, Mr Schneider-Ammann at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)  in Ulan Bator, Mongolia

June 2016

Courtesy meeting between the Vice President of Vietnam, Mrs. Dang Thi Ngoc Trinh  and  the President of  Swiss Confederation, Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann in Bern

April 2016

Meeting between the Federal Councillor, Mr Schneider-Ammann and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Pham Binh Minh at the Spring Meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions in Washington, D.C., U.S.A

September 2015

Meeting between the Federal Councillor, Mr Schneider-Ammann and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Vu Van Ninh in Bern

June 2015

Meeting between the Federal Councillor, Mr Didier Burkhalter and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi

Meeting between the Federal Councillor, Mr Didier Burkhalter and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Hoang Trung Hai in Hanoi

January 2015

Meeting between the Federal Councillor, Mr Schneider-Ammann and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Pham Binh Minh at the WEF in Davos

June 2014

Official visit of the State Secretary Dell'Ambrogio in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

February 2014

Political dialogue with Deputy State Secretary for Asia/Pacific Beat Nobs in Hanoi

January 2014 

Meeting between Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh at the WEF in Davos

October 2013

Official visit of Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and economic delegation in Vietnam

December 2012

Political dialogue with Deputy State Secretary for Asia/Pacific Beat Nobs in Bern

August 2012 

Meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan and Federal Councillor Berset

Meeting between Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and State Secretary Yves Rossier

November 2011

Working visit of State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch in Hanoi

September 2011

Meeting between Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai

March 2011

Political dialogue with Deputy State Secretary for Asia/Pacific Beat Nobs in Hanoi

January 2011

Meeting between Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan in Davos

Mai 2010 

Official visit of President Nguyen Minh Triet, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem and Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in Bern

January 2010

Meeting between President of the Federal Council Leuthard and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the WEF

July 2009

Meeting between State Secretary Gerber and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Minister for Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc in Vietnam

Mai 2009

Meeting between Minister for Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc and Federal Councillor Leuthard in Bern

April 2009

Meeting between member of Politbureau Ho Duc Viet and President of the Council of States Alain Berset, State Secretary Ambühl and State Secretary Dell'Ambrogio

Januar 2009

Meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan and Federal Councillor Leuthard in Davos

August 2008

Official visit of President of the Federal Council Couchepin (First official visit of a Swiss President of the Federal Council in Vietnam)
Meeting with President Nguyen Minh Triet, General Secretary of the Communist Party Nong Duc Manh and Prime Minister Nguyen Tang Dung 

24 - 25 August 2005

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Dung, special envoy of the Prime Minister for the WTO-accession, meets Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss (Minister of Economy), State Secretary for Economic Affairs Jean-Daniel Gerber, and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Michael Ambühl during his official visit to Bern

22 – 25 March 2005

Official visit of the President of the National Assembly Nguyen Van An to Switzerland (meetings with the President of the Swiss National Council and with Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey)

26 – 27 November 2004

Meeting between Vice President of Vietnam, Mrs. Truong My Hoa, and President of the Swiss Confederation Joseph Deiss on the occasion of the Summit of the Francophone Community in Ouagadougou

27 – 30 August 2003

Vice Prime Minister Vu Khoan visits Switzerland on the occasion of the Annual Conference of SDC and seco (with Vietnam showcased); meetings with President of the Swiss Confederation Pascal Couchepin (Minister of Internal Affairs), Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey (Foreign Minister), and Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss (Minister of Economy)

24 January 2003

Vice Prime Minister Vu Khoan meets President of the Swiss Confederation Pascal Couchepin during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

October 2002

Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin (Minister of Economy) visits Vietnam

May 2002

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Director Walter Fust visits Vietnam

April 2002

Vice Prime Minister Cam visits Switzerland

June 2001

Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs David Syz visits Vietnam

January 2001

Vice Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem meets Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin (Minister of Economy) during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

November 2000

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dinh Bin visits Switzerland on the occasion of the inauguration of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Bern

October 2000

Vietnamese Minister of Trade Vu Khoan meets with Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin (Minister of Economy) during his visit to Switzerland

September 1999

Vice Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam in Switzerland

July 1999

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dy Nien visits Switzerland

March 1999

Swiss President of the Council of States René Rhinow visits Vietnam

January 1999

Vietnamese Vice Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

October 1998

Vietnamese Minister of Culture visits Switzerland

Mai 1998

State Secretary for Education and Science Charles Kleiber (Ministry of Internal Affairs) visits Vietnam

November 1997

President of the Swiss Confederation Arnold Koller (Minister of Justice) visits Vietnam for the Summit of the Francophone Community;
Swiss Federal Councillor Flavio Cotti (Foreign Minister) visits Vietnam.

June 1997

Deputy Minister of Justice Nguyen Van San visits Switzerland

March 1997

A Vietnamese Parliamentary Delegation lead by Le Duc Binh visits Switzerland

September 1996

Minister of Youth Welfare, Mrs. Tran Thi Thanh, visits Switzerland;
former Minister of Defence, General Vo Nguyen Giap, undertakes a private visit to Switzerland

October 1994

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Manh Cam visits Switzerland

July 1994

Swiss Federal Councillor Jean-Pascal Delamuraz (Minister of Economy) visits Vietnam

January 1992

Vietnamese Vice Prime Minister Phan Van Khai meets the Secretary of State Klaus Jacobi at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

February 1990

Vietnamese Vice Prime Minister Phan Van Khai meets Swiss Federal Councillor René Felber (Foreign Minister) during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos

1980, 1981, 1984

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam visits Switzerland

1971

Establishment of diplomatic relations (11 October 1971)