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President co-chairs Vietnam - Switzerland Business Forum

Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin co-chaired a Vietnam - Switzerland Business Forum in Bern on November 26.

Addressing the forum with the attendance of representatives from over 100 businesses of the two countries, the Vietnamese leader called on Swiss businesses to invest in Vietnam and partner with Vietnamese enterprises in areas where Swiss firms have strengths and Vietnam is giving priority to, especially in banking and finance, science and hi-technology, innovation and digital transformation.

For his part, President Parmelin highlighted the huge potential for stronger cooperation between the two countries, and the necessity to have new cooperation frameworks to encourage Swiss businesses to invest in Vietnam.

The interest and commitment of businesses and representatives of the private sector of Switzerland at the forum showed that Vietnam is a priority for the European country in economic cooperation, he said, revealing that no less than 70 million CHF are expected to be invested in economic development projects in Vietnam in the 2021-2024 period.

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the need for a legal framework to promote close bilateral economic ties, he noted.

The two countries signed an investment protection agreement, a double taxation avoidance agreement and an agreement on protection of intellectual property rights, President Parmelin said, adding that these are important legal foundations for Vietnamese and Swiss businesses to enhance partnership and to further bolster bilateral relations between the two economies.

Regarding a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which has been negotiated by the two sides in the past nine years, President Parmelin expressed his hope that the countries will come up with solutions to accelerate the talks.

Agreeing with his Swiss counterpart on the above-mentioned issues, President Phuc said that righter after his talks with President Parmelin on November 26 morning, the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade had a meeting with the Minister of State of Switzerland to promote the early conclusion of the negotiations and signing of the EFTA-Vietnam FTA for the benefit of both sides.

He briefed Swiss investors on potential and investment opportunities in Vietnam, saying that Vietnam has changed from merely attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) capital to cooperating with foreign investors in the spirit of equality, mutual development and benefit, and responsibility to society and employees, and environmental protection.

Vietnam selects and prioritises investment projects in the fields of high technology, innovation and research and development, he said, adding that Vietnam pledges to cooperate and create favourable conditions for its businesses to join value chains, promote digital economy and actively contribute to the country’s sustainable socio-economic development.

The Vietnamese leader suggested the two countries promote extensive communications on each country's investment policies to their businesses, especially in finance and banking, science and high technology, innovation and digital transformation.

Relevant agencies of the two countries should encourage trade and investment flows to each other, and increase the exchange of business delegations to learn about markets and opportunities for investment and business connections, he said.

President Phuc called on Swiss businesses to support the Swiss Government to supply COVID-19 vaccines for Vietnam through the COVAX Facility, and supply medical equipment and transfer technology for COVID-19 treatment drugs research and production to the Southeast Asian nation.

Vietnam will make efforts to create a business environment as committed in new-generation FTAs with high-quality and comprehensive standards, including maintaining socio-political and macroeconomic stability, removing bottlenecks of the economy in terms of legal institutions, infrastructure and human resources, developing supply chains, reducing logistics and administrative costs.

Swiss businesses can enjoy other opportunities when they invest in Vietnam because the Southeast Asian nation has joined 15 trade agreements, including large-scale and high-standard deals such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Vietnam-EU FTA, he said./.