Viet Nam accession

Other Projects


Timeline: 2002 – 2007

Donor: Switzerland (SECO)

Beneficiary: Viet Nam

The Vietnamese Government applied for World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership in 1994 and a Working Party was established in January 1995.

On 2 May 1997, the Swiss Confederation and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam signed a cooperation agreement concerning the provision of trade policy advice with a view to facilitating Vietnam’s accession to WTO. The late Arthur Dunkel, former GATT Director-General and co-founder of IDEAS Centre, was personally involved in advising the Vietnamese Government on its accession process.

The project ended with Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO on 11 January 2007.

Overall goal and content

The project was executed through several successive project documents which all focused on the negotiation process, helping the Vietnamese negotiating team to address priority issues and requests from Working Party Members in a way that supports Viet Nam’s trade and development interests.

“The project ended with Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO on 11 January 2007.”


The project had four major objectives:

  • To provide support for the negotiations and strengthen the capacities of Vietnamese trade negotiators by helping them to argue in favour of their interests and defend them in the course of WTO accession negotiations.
  • To undertake comparative reviews of recent accession cases and draw lessons for Viet Nam’s accession negotiations.
  • To support the Vietnamese Government in addressing potential conflicts of interest between required WTO-related reforms and Viet Nam’s development strategy.
  • To assist Vietnamese authorities in convincingly presenting their case and establishing alliances with supporters from donor countries and beyond.


IDEAS Centre delivered trade policy advice relating to strategic negotiation issues. It worked on the basis of analyses and research relating to negotiating options. Results from IDEAS’ work were shared with the Vietnamese government in the form of a continuing policy dialogue. There was substantial flexibility within the project to adapt to evolutions within the negotiations and specific demands from Viet Nam.


The project contributed substantially to improve Viet Nam’s understanding of the principles of WTO and the functioning of the market economy. Thanks to the advice provided at a high-level, the project was able to influence the evolution of the economic reform of the Vietnamese Government. Mr Dunkel’s work was thus acknowledged for having been able to establish an open and trusted dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities at a high level on the basic tenants of a trade policy with the objective of integrating into the world economy. The project was less successful in the later part of the accession process due to the illness of Mr Dunkel and a lack of transformation of the project into a technical assistance programme which, at that stage, was needed by the Vietnamese.