In an interview given to the Vietnam News Agency ahead of her country’s National Day (August 1), the diplomat also said the two countries have regularly had routine political consultations, high-ranking visits, and joint activities at the World Economic Forum in Davos held in January each year.
Last April, the Secretary of the Swiss Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Doris Leuthard, paid an official visit to Vietnam, discussing connections in those fields with local officials. The two sides signed an aviation cooperation agreement to facilitate the opening of direct flight routes, including the one linking Ho Chi Minh City and Zurich this November. This is a chance to boost bilateral tourism and trade links, she noted.
Highlighting the growing trade ties, Mallor said Vietnam has exported many commodities to Switzerland, whose consumers like Vietnamese goods, especially fruits and seafood, very much. The Southeast Asian nation has also imported a number of medical and pharmaceutical products and high technologies from Switzerland. Both nations have complimentary advantages.
She voiced her belief that more progress will be recorded in bilateral cooperation once the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association – EFTA, which groups Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland, is reached.
The EFTA members have conducted many negotiation rounds with Vietnam, and they hope to soon finalise the deal, she said, noting that Switzerland currently ranks fourth among the West European countries investing in Vietnam.
Many Swiss companies like Nestlé, ABB and Schindler have opened branches in Vietnam. If Vietnam maintains the current growth trend, these firms will help demonstrate a friendly investment climate, thus making the country more attractive to businesses from not only Switzerland but also other places.
The two countries have cooperated effectively in this area, but they completely can further enhance this partnership, Ambassador Mallor added.
Switzerland is paying attention to development cooperation with Vietnam so as to assist the latter to achieve its targets, she said, elaborating that the European nation has been helping Vietnam improve the competitiveness and efficiency of its private companies, especially small- and medium-sized ones. It is also supporting a number of Vietnamese companies in treating water, managing power grid and improving infrastructure.
Switzerland is helping the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance with public finance management and the State Bank of Vietnam with creating more stable and professional financial services.
Regarding tourism partnership, the diplomat affirmed it will develop in the time ahead with the opening of the Zurich – HCM City direct flight route, which will help bring more Vietnamese tourists to Switzerland and vice versa.
About 30,000 Swiss visitors came to Vietnam in 2017. If the visa conditions are improved, for example including Switzerland in Vietnam’s e-visa system, this number will surely increase in the time to come, she added.