Improving living conditions, creating market access and opening up new horizons
Our division draws up the concept for the economic cooperation with selected, more advanced developing countries such as Indonesia and Peru, transition countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the new EU member states (enlargement contribution). The main objective in this context is to promote economic, environmental and socially sustainable growth which creates new jobs, facilitates increased productivity and helps to reduce poverty and disparities. This is done by integrating these countries into the global economy and strengthening the competitiveness of their domestic economies. This work focuses on support measures for those countries who have committed themselves to a serious process of reforms geared towards performance. In this context, good government and equality between the sexes are seen as cross-sectoral themes. We work closely together with the World Bank group, the regional development banks and the trade organisations of the United Nations and represent the interests of Switzerland in these institutions.
Our division is organised along specialist lines and our work is focused on the five topic areas set out below for which the SECO is for the most part also responsible on the national level.
Strengthening economic and financial policy
Stable economic framework conditions and functioning institutions are essential for sustainable economic development. Our support is aimed at creating a stable monetary policy, a balanced financial budget and a strong financial sector. We provide help to our partner countries to create economic reforms which are favourable to generating growth, that contribute to greater budgetary stability, mobilise internal resources, create more efficient public services and improve governmental accountability. In the financial sector we provide support for the regulation and supervision of the financial markets, promote a healthy financial policy environment and the development of local capital markets.
Developing urban infrastructures and utility supplies
We provide support to ensure reliable and affordable energy and water supplies, to prove transport and traffic and to ensure the disposal of waste water and waste, all of which are essential for sustainable development. The aim is to establish basic public institutions and to make the operational and financial capacities of utility companies more professional. Another task is to promote the framework conditions to ensure that operating costs are placed on a sound financial basis. In this context particular attention must be placed on integrated urban development in order to increase the attraction of medium-sized city centres as a place to live and work and so that they can better fulfil their central role in generating economic growth. This will also promote social harmony and reduce the pressure on migration.
Support for the private sector and enterprise
A dynamic private sector built on a strong spirit of enterprise creates jobs, helps to increase tax revenues and, through the exchange of goods and services, plays a key role in economic integration. We are helping to improve the business environment for SMEs and to enable them to access outside financing. We contribute towards improving the efficiency of local financial markets and establishing a sustainable spirit of enterprise. Last but not least, we promote a range of measures which are aimed at prompting both domestic and foreign investment and in this way we are making a contribution towards the transfer of capital, know-how and technology to both developing countries and countries in transition.
Promoting sustainable trade
Opening up trade in a way which is geared towards rules and is non-discriminatory, creates new opportunities for all the market participants. The task is to utilise the existing locational advantages for economic development. We support measures that set out and improve the framework conditions for trade which is both socially and environmentally acceptable and which strengthen the international competitiveness of manufacturers and SMEs in the partner countries. We also smooth the way for the import of sustainably-manufactured goods and services into European markets in particular by promoting the application of quality standards as well as environmental and social criteria in the developing countries and those in transition. Last but not least, we are responsible for the system of preferential customs tariffs for imports from developing countries.
Paving the way for climate-friendly growth
The successes achieved over recent decades in combating poverty are being jeopardised by the consequences of climate change. We are helping to combat the causes of climate warming – often the result of inefficient industrial processes – and to enable the partner countries to achieve climate-friendly growth. We are concentrating on the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energies, the sustainable use of natural resources and on strengthening market and financing mechanisms in terms of climate protection. This work focuses on favourable and stable framework conditions, such as appropriate energy tariffs and standards, investment certainty, market access and protection for intellectual property.
Developing multilateral cooperation
We are responsible for the relationships between Switzerland and the World Bank group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as with the regional development banks for Africa, Asia and Latin America. In conjunction with the Development and Cooperation Directorate DEZA, we also define Switzerland’s approach and strategy on the decision-making committees of these institutions and as co-stakeholder we exercise the rights and obligations. These institutions provide financial resources and technical support as a way of contributing towards sustainable development and for reducing poverty in the developing countries and countries in transition. They are strategic partners in the implementation of the SECO’s bilateral support measures. The OECD, in particular the Development Aid Committee of the OECD (DAC) is another key partner.
Promoting programme and project quality
We develop quality standards and instruments for control, evaluation, risk management and financial controls and for implementing the corresponding measures. The aim is to guarantee the effectiveness of our measures and to minimise the risks involved. With the help of knowledge management, training, taking account of internationally recognised basic principles and proven methods, we promote an ongoing learning process on various levels (effectiveness, harmonisation of the assistance, fighting corruption, reducing poverty, political coherence, migration, the gender dimension). Other key instruments of accountability include the activity with regard to information and the organisation of events.