Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin to travel to Japan and Vietnam

Bern, 05.07.2019 - The head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, will lead a business and science delegation to Japan and Vietnam from 7 to 14 July. The focus of talks with governments in both countries will be on free trade agreements. The accompanying representatives from Swiss firms and the Swiss education, research and innovation landscape will have access to decision makers on economic policy, and so expand their network of contacts.

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin will be travelling to Japan and Vietnam between 7 and 14 July and will be accompanied on his travels by representatives of Switzerland’s business community as well as from the fields of education, research and innovation. Switzerland and Japan have worked closely in the fields of economic affairs and science for many years. The aim of the visit to Japan is ultimately to further deepen that cooperation, also in respect of the bilateral free trade and economic partnership agreement that came into force ten years ago.

With a bilateral trade volume of over CHF 12 billion, Japan is one of the most important trading partners in Asia. The extent to which the two economies are intertwined despite the geographical distance is also reflected in the level of reciprocal direct investment: Swiss companies have so far invested over CHF 14 billion in Japan, while Japanese companies are the most important Asian investors in Switzerland with over CHF 25 billion.

Japan is also one of Switzerland's main partners in scientific cooperation. Since the signing of the bilateral cooperation agreement on science and technology in 2007, relations have intensified considerably, in particular by encouraging the mobility of young researchers. Since 2014, around 40 doctoral students have been able to complete a research internship in Japan, for example. In addition, strong links have been established between research funding agencies, and three calls for joint projects have been launched since 2016. During the visit, an agreement will be signed between Switzerland Innovation and a Japanese partner, thereby strengthening the links between innovation parks.

Relations with Vietnam

Vietnam's economy has been growing at an above-average rate for several years now and offers interesting opportunities for foreign investors. In talks with the Vietnamese government, the continuation of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EFTA countries and Vietnam is at the top of the agenda. The programme also includes visits to a number of economic development cooperation projects. Switzerland has been Vietnam's economic development partner for over 25 years and is currently running 40 different projects.

In terms of bilateral economic relations with Vietnam, trade in goods in particular is developing dynamically. The annual volume of trade between Vietnam and Switzerland amounted to around CHF 2 billion in 2018, an increase of around 5%. This makes Vietnam Switzerland's fourth most important trading partner in Southeast Asia. According to figures from the Swiss National Bank, Swiss companies have so far invested a total of CHF 690 million in Vietnam and are represented in numerous sectors.

From a scientific point of view, Vietnam offers interesting opportunities for Swiss research institutions, particularly in the fields of health and the environment. The ETH Zurich, in its capacity as Leading House for Cooperation with Southeast Asia, regularly offers funding instruments for Swiss researchers wishing to develop collaborations with Vietnam or other countries in the region. Some 20 projects have received funding since 2014 and the next calls for projects in research and innovation are planned for the summer and the autumn.

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Secretariat-General EAER

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs