Switzerland and Laos established diplomatic relations in 1963 and enjoy good bilateral relations. Switzerland supports the development effort in Laos through its international cooperation. Trade relations between the two countries are minimal.
Bilateral relations Switzerland – Laos
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, is also accredited to Laos (officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic). Since summer 2012 all consular services have been provided by the regional consular centre in Bangkok. The honorary consulate in Vientiane has been reorganised into a consular agency.
Switzerland and Laos have had diplomatic relations since 1963 and have engaged in regular political dialogue since 2012.
The Laotian ambassador to Switzerland resides in Geneva.
The opening of the SDC cooperation office in Vientiane in autumn 2006 was followed by a rapid expansion of programmes in Laos. Switzerland is thus intensifying the development cooperation relationship it has had with the Laotian government since the mid-1990s.
Switzerland also cooperates with Laos within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Switzerland has been a sectoral dialogue partner since July 2016.
Economic and financial relations
Trade relations between Switzerland and Laos have been growing since the 1990s but remain small in scope. Switzerland's exports include watches and clocks, machinery and pharmaceuticals, while its main imports from Laos are precious stones and textiles.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Laos can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has supported Laos since 1995 under its programme devoted to the Mekong region. The Mekong region strategy focuses on three main areas:
- local governance and citizen participation
- agriculture and food security
- employment and vocational education and training.
Regarding humanitarian aid, the SDC intervenes on an ad hoc basis after natural disasters.
Two regional specialists in disaster risk reduction and disaster management have been based in Bangkok since 2013 to support SDC projects in South East Asia and the Pacific region and to respond rapidly to natural disasters in both regions. The two specialists are also helping ASEAN to step up its disaster risk management and rapid response capabilities.
Laos also benefits from certain regional economic development programmes run by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Swiss nationals in Laos
At the start of 2018, there were 131 Swiss nationals living in Laos.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Laos in 1957. In 1963 the two countries established diplomatic relations, which are today managed by the Swiss embassy in Bangkok.