National Assembly Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong (Photo: VNA)

Berne (VNA) – National Assembly (NA) Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong joined Vice Minister of State of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Alexandre Fasel in a ceremony to mark the 45th anniversary of Vietnam- Switzerland diplomatic ties in Berne on October 10. 

In her remarks, the Vietnamese official recalled important milestones in bilateral relations, and thanked Switzerland for its effective support for Vietnam’s national construction, development and international integration, especially in accelerating the administrative reform and poverty reduction, improving healthcare services, and realising UN millennium development goals. 

Alexandre Fasel expressed his joy at bilateral cooperation prospects across the fields, particularly in economics, education and training, tourism and cultural exchange. 

He affirmed his country and Vietnam are looking to enhance bilateral and multilateral ties on the basis of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN-EU dialogue mechanism as well as within the International Francophone Organisation (OIF). 

On the same day, Phong spoke at a forum on economic cooperation between the two countries, affirming that Switzerland is one of Vietnam’s important partners in Europe. 

She highlighted the great potential for the two countries to step up links in tourism training, insurance, banking, high technology, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, food processing and infrastructure development under the public-private partnership (PPP) form. 

Vietnam will step up administrative reform, improve the investment climate and the competitiveness of the country, and apply preferential policies to facilitate investors’ operation in the country, she stated. 

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa introduced participants to business opportunities in Vietnam. 

Ambassador Markus Schlagenhof from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) expressed the wish that Vietnam and member countries of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) will early complete their negotiations on a free trade agreement in 2017. 

He hopes the FTA between Vietnam and the EFTA will bring many opportunities for Swiss enterprises in the future. 

As part of her visit to Switzerland from October 9-11, Phong had a working session with President of the Swiss State Council (Upper House) Raphael Comte, who suggested closer ties between the two countries, especially economy and culture. 

The two sides agreed to enhance experience sharing and consultation between the legislative bodies, and their coordination at international forums. 

During her stay, Phong met with the Vietnamese Embassy’s staff and overseas Vietnamese (OVs) in the country. 

On the occasion, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Ba Hung and Ambassador to Switzerland Pham Hai Bang presented certificates of merit of Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and the Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs (COVA) to six OVs in recognition of their contributions to charitable activities in the homeland.-VNA