Switzerland has pledged medical aid worth CHF5 million ($5.5 million) to Vietnam, which is battling a severe coronavirus outbreak.This content was published on August 6, 2021 - 15:42
The delivery of Swiss humanitarian aid will include 13 tons of medical material, including respirators, as well as antigen tests and protective masks, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs saidExternal link on Friday.
Vietnam is currently facing one of its worst outbreaksExternal link so far, with around a third of the country’s 63 cities and provinces under strict coronavirus curbs. There were 8,324 reported new infections in the nation on Friday.
Down to business
Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was in the country as part of a six-day working visit to Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Laos.
During high-level ministerial talks, Cassis called for the speedy conclusion to negotiations on the free trade agreement between ETFA (the European free trade group formed by Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Vietnam. This has been in the works since 2012.
"Having entered into free trade agreements with the EU and the UK, an agreement with EFTA would present an opportunity for Vietnam to cement its trade relations in Europe," Cassis said.
Provided market access is granted, Vietnam offers big potential for Swiss companies, according to Cassis. Around 100 Swiss companies are currently operating in Vietnam.
Overall, Switzerland has provided CHF600 million in funding to Vietnam over the past 30 years and continues to support development programmes there.