Switzerland supports Vietnam's market economy
Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard has signed four agreements with Hanoi aimed at trying to integrate Vietnam better into the global economy.
The accords, which will cost Switzerland about SFr9 million ($7.49 million) are also intended to make the communist southeast Asian nation more attractive for Swiss investors.
Leuthard, who is in Vietnam after a visit to China, signed on Monday one key agreement on the protection of intellectual property with the Vietnamese minister of science and technology, Hoang Van Phong.
After working out legislation that is compatible with the World Trade Organization, the Swiss will support the Vietnamese in applying it effectively. There will also be help in developing intellectual property law in universities.
Aid from the Swiss State Secretariat for the Economy for the programme, which stretches over three years, is budgeted at SFr1.2 million. The Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and the Vietnamese authorities are to continue cooperation on the issue.
Vietnam, as China, produces many copies of products, machines and technical systems. The most affected sectors are watchmaking and pharmaceuticals.
"This accord is vital for the [Swiss] pharmaceutical industry as there will be a good basis for trade exchange," commented Leuthhard at a news conference in Hanoi.
Switzerland is also going to help Vietnam to bring its trade issues up in the World Trade Organization in Geneva as well as putting its WTO liberalisation obligations into practice.
The aim of an accord on this, with costs of SFr1 million, aims to give expertise to Vietnamese government officials and diplomats.
"All these projects will help the Swiss economy open doors later," Leuthard noted, helping trade and investment grow.
She said in the long run, the aim was to have economic and free trade accords with countries like Vietnam, but these needed time.
A third project, costing SFr5.8 million and signed with the Vietnamese central bank, aims to develop the country's banking sector. It will help modernise the bank, introduce a programme of reforms and improve training.
Leuthard signed a fourth agreement - on strengthening competition - with the Vietnamese trade minister Truong Dinh Tuyen.
The aim of the SFr900,000 programme is to increase the powers of the local competition authorities and demonstrate the advantages of a competitive market.
"Competition in Vietnam is still a difficult area," Leuthard commented. The country still has many state-owned enterprises and it is not clear how and how quickly they will be privatised.
Leuthard also met the prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, on Monday discussing reforms in Vietnam and cooperation between the two countries.
swissinfo with agencies
Area: 330,363 square km (about eight times the area of Switzerland)
Population: 84 million, with two-thirds under the age of 30
GDP per capita in 2006: $723 (SFr869)
Economic growth in 2006: 8.2%
60% of Vietnamese work in agriculture, which accounts for only a fifth of GDP.
The biggest contributor to economic growth is the manufacturing industry, in particular the export-oriented production of clothes and shoes.
Switzerland exported goods worth SFr140 million to Vietnam and imported goods valued at SFr224 million.
Swiss exports were mainly machines as well as pharmaceutical and chemical products.
Imports from Vietnam were mostly agricultural products, shoes, textiles and leather goods.
Switzerland is the 17th biggest foreign investor in Vietnam.
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