The Government of Switzerland pursues the goal to invest, by 2015, 0.5% of the country’s GDP to combat poverty and promote economic development in poor countries. Two federal offices coordinate international development cooperation on behalf of the Swiss Confederation: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The support provided by Swiss Development Cooperation facilitates poverty reduction, regional and global socio-economic integration, gender equality and good governance.
SDC has been active in the Mekong Region since the late 1960s. The region has been a priority area of Swiss Development Cooperation since 1995. Currently, SDC is funding a supra-national Mekong program and country programs in Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. A development program in Cambodia is at planning stage and will start activities in 2013. SECO is mainly active in Vietnam, with smaller programs also in Laos and Cambodia. The overall volume of Swiss Development Cooperation in the Mekong region, including the contribution to Swiss NGOs, is planned to increase from 64 million Swiss Francs in 2012 to approximately 115 million Swiss Francs in 2016.
Swiss Development Cooperation focuses on 4 main challenges in the Mekong region:
1. Local Governance and Citizen Participation
2. Agriculture and Food Security
3. Employment and Skills
4. Economic Development and Trade
There is a Swiss Embassy in Hanoi for Vietnam, and a Swiss Embassy in Bangkok for Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. A new Swiss Embassy will open in Myanmar in November 2012.
Swiss Development Cooperation has offices in Hanoi (SECO and SDC), Phnom Penh, Yangon, and Vientiane.