General information on development cooperation

Two institutions share the responsibility for defining and implementing the Swiss aid programme: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). Together they manage around 80% of the development cooperation programme (with SDC managing 66.4%).

SECO, as the federal government’s centre of expertise for all core issues relating to economic policy, is the agency responsible for Switzerland’s Economic Development Cooperation, including Switzerland’s trade-related cooperation and capacity building.

SECO’s trade-related cooperation

Economic development cooperation is one of the three pillars of Switzerland’s foreign economic strategy. Switzerland thereby seeks to support the integration of developing countries into the global economy and thus to enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The promotion of trade plays a key role in economic development, as it holds significant potential to boost economic growth and job creation.

Accordingly, trade promotion plays a strategic role in Switzerland’s economic development cooperation. This is also reflected in its Message on International Cooperation 2017-2020, which sets out the strategic priorities for the period 2017-20. Three of Switzerland’s target outcomes for its economic development cooperation are trade-related: 1) Enhanced trade and competitiveness; 2) More and better jobs; and 3) Low-emission and climate-resilient economies.

SECO’s trade-related cooperation aims at strengthening trade-related capacities at the policy, institutional and enterprise-level taking into account the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and environmental). It concentrates on improving the framework conditions for trade and private enterprise and on strengthening responsible competition all along the export value chains with a view to expanding sustainable trade. Interventions focus on areas in which Switzerland has the specific know-how and a comparative advantage. It works alongside various multilateral, regional or bilateral stakeholders in sustainable trade, particularly also the Geneva-based international institutions.


Principal official agency responsible for TCB assistance to developing countries

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Economic Cooperation and Development Division:
Physical Address
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO,
Trade Promotion Unit (WEHU)
Holzikofenweg 36, CH-3003 Bern

SECO’s Economic Cooperation and Development Division is responsible for the planning and implementation of economic and trade policy measures with middle-income developing countries, with countries of Eastern Europe as well as the new Member States of the European Union. It coordinates Switzerland’s relations with the World Bank Group, the regional development banks and the economic organisations of the United Nations. In 2016, SECO invested CHF 332 million in cooperation with developing and transition countries. Within the Economic Cooperation and Development Division, it is the Trade Promotion Sector that is responsible for the strategy and management of trade-related cooperation activities.


Other government and official agencies with responsibilities directly relevant to TCB

Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI)
Contact details
Physical Address
Stauffacherstrasse 65/59g, CH-3003 Bern

The IPI is the federal agency in charge of intellectual property (IP) matters in Switzerland. Its mandate is to draft legislation in the field of IP, advise the Federal Council and other federal administrators, and represent Switzerland at the international level. The IPI also offers services in trademark research and patent information on a private law basis and provides IP training and awareness-raising activities for SMEs and the public. Additionally, the IPI provides international cooperation in the area of IP, either independently or in collaboration with other national and international organizations. The IPI’s overall objectives in the area of international cooperation are:

  1. Improve the business-enabling environment through reforms in the field of IP and thus strengthen the socio-economic context in partner countries. This includes in particular:

    • (a) promote the investment climate, access to new sectors and markets, creative industries as well as research and innovation;
    • (b) develop knowledge and technology transfer; and
    • (c) prevent piracy and counterfeiting and thus improve the protection of health and the environment.
  2. The targeted protection of IP in partner countries should be adequate, effective, predictable and easy to apply. In doing so, the economic benefits and all interests concerned are to be considered in a balanced manner.

  3. The protection of IP is to be improved at a global level, in particular through the dissemination and implementation of international standards.


Swiss Federal Office of Metrology Switzerland (METAS):
Contact details

Tel: +41 31 32 33 111


Physical Address
Lindenweg 50
CH-3003 Bern-Wabern, Switzerland

METAS, the Swiss national metrology institute, produces and disseminates internationally harmonized and recognized units of measurement with the necessary accuracy. It supervises the deployment of measuring instruments in the fields of commerce, traffic, public safety, health and environment, and the execution of legal provisions carried out by the cantons and by the authorized verification offices in Switzerland. The key tasks performed by METAS are legally established and are as follows:

  1. it ensures that measurements required for trade and transportation, healthcare, public safety and the environment can be carried out with sufficient accuracy and according to internationally recognized criteria (preparing legislation, oversight of metrology);

  2. it develops the national measurement base (physical implementation, international comparison and mutual recognition of measurement units), operates the laboratories required for this purpose and conducts the necessary research and development;

  3. it provides the Swiss economy, administration and scientific community with internationally recognized reference measurements according to the current state-of-the-art and with the required degree of accuracy (propagation of measurement units);

  4. it appoints professional and competent centre to evaluate the conformance of measurement equipment as part of bilateral agreements with the European Community; and

  5. it operates its own conformance evaluation centre to verify and certify measurement equipment and the management systems of measurement equipment manufacturers.


Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO):
Contact details

Phone: +41 31 555 99 61

E-mail: info [at] sippo.ch


Physical Address
Gutenbergstrasse 14, CH-3011 Bern

SIPPO was launched in 1982 to support SMEs in selected developing countries to gain access to the Swiss and EU markets. It is financed by SECO and run by Swisscontact. SECO tendered a new Swiss Import Promotion Programme 2017-20 (SIPPO). The mandate for this new programme was awarded to Swisscontact. The new programme reflects experiences and lessons learned from previous phases. The programme will follow a more decentralized approach in the future, working closely with Country Coordination Committees and ensuring a stronger link to other SECO value chain projects. The objective of the new SIPPO Programme is to strengthen Business Support Organizations in 11 developing and transition countries so as to be able to deliver export promotion services effectively and efficiently to an increasing number of members (SMEs), with a view to export successfully to Switzerland and the EU markets and generate additional jobs and income. At the other end of the supply chain, SIPPO provides information and advice to importers from Switzerland and the European Union who are interested in high-quality products from selected developing and transition countries, and it regularly organizes events and buying missions to these countries with Swiss companies.

Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)
Contact details

Tel: +41 62 865 72 72

E-mail: info.suisse [at] fibl.org


Physical Address
Ackerstrasse 113, CH-5070 Frick

FiBL is one of the world’s leading research and information centers for organic agriculture. It is an independent, non-profit, research institute with the aim of advancing cutting-edge science and consultancy in the field of organic agriculture. FiBL’s employs over 180 experts. Alongside practical studies, FiBL gives high priority to transferring knowledge into agricultural practice through advisory work, training, and conferences. FiBL has offices in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. FiBL is operating worldwide –in consultancy, research, training, and market development not only related to organic but also to other sustainable production systems. FiBL’s international capacity building work involves a broad range of topics, including institutional building (advisory, research, and certification organizations), capacity building in research and along the supply chain, strategic sector, market- and value chain development and participatory stakeholder platform development.


Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)
Contact details

Tel: +41 44 365 51 51

E-mail: info [at] s-ge.com


Physical Address
Stampfenbachstrasse 85, CH-8006 Zürich

Mandated by the Swiss Confederation, S-GE as a centre of excellence for internationalization provides the following services: (i) sharing information, advice and contacts regarding new export opportunities for Swiss and Liechtenstein SMEs as well as (ii) marketing Switzerland as a business location abroad and assessing and submitting foreign direct investment projects to cantonal and regional development agencies.


Other offical and NON-governmental organizations involved

Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
Contact details

E-mail: info [at] helvetas.org


Physical Address
Weinbergstr.22a, Postfach,
CH-8021 Zürich

Helvetas, an international network of independent affiliated member organizations, is working in the fields of development cooperation and emergency response. Helvetas promotes the fundamental rights of individuals and groups and strengthen governments and other duty bearers in their service provision, building upon six decades of development experience. With 1600 collaborators in about 30 countries, of whom 1400 are national staff, the network members share a common vision and mission and subscribe to common working principles and policies. We jointly implement development programmes and adhere to a common strategy, working approaches and thematic areas of intervention. In Switzerland, Helvetas is structured as an association of 100,000 members and donors and has offices in Zürich, Bern, Geneva, and Balerna.


IDEAS Centre
Contact details

Tel:+41 22 807 17 40

E-mail: info [at] ideascentre.ch


Physical Address
Rue de l’Arquebuse 10, CH-1204 Geneva

IDEAS Centre is an independent and not-for-profit organization dedicated to facilitating the integration of developing countries into the world economy. Since 2002, IDEAS Centre has been providing practical and results-oriented advisory services to governments on a broad range of trade-related issues. The Centre has implemented around 40 projects impacting more than 50 developing economies on topics covering WTO accession, multilateral and regional trade negotiations, trade policy reviews, and other trade and development matters. The overall approach of IDEAS Centre is to empower and strengthen developing countries by: (i) supporting them to use their WTO membership (or accession process) in a way that promotes their sustainable development goals; (ii) deepening their understanding of development challenges and linkages with trade and WTO rules; and (iii) fostering effective participation in international trade forums and negotiations.


International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
Contact details

Tel: + 41 22 917 84 92

E-mail: ictsd [at] ictsd.ch

Physical Address
International Environment House 2, Chemin de Balexert 7-9,
CH-1219 Châtelaine Geneva

 ICTSD aims to influence the international trade system so that it advances the goal of sustainable development. As an independent, non-profit, and non-governmental organization, ICTSD engages a broad range of actors in the ongoing dialogue on trade and sustainable development policy. It established formal partnerships with 123 institutions in 37 different countries in 2009. With a global network of governmental, non-governmental, and inter-governmental partners, it plays a unique, systemic role as a provider of original, non-partisan reporting and facilitation services. It advances trade policy that supports sustainable development by structuring interaction between policy-makers and key influencers who are often excluded from policymaking processes. It also supports stakeholders in trade policy through information, networking, dialogue, well-targeted research, and capacity building. The Centre generates between 70 to 90 research papers and think pieces annually in collaboration with the top organizations and research institutes in the field. Since 1996, it has also been granted accreditation by the WTO to participate in all its Ministerial Conferences and other ad hoc activities. ICTSD is further accredited to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Since July 2005, it has been an accredited member of the Governing Council of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).



Swiss Alliance of Development Organizations (Alliance Sud)
Contact details

Tel: +41 31 390 93 30

E-mail: mail [at] alliancesud.ch


Physical Address
Monbijoustrasse 31, PO Box 6735, CH-3001 Bern

Alliance Sud is the common platform for development policy for six leading Swiss development organizations: Swissaid, Catholic Lenten Fund, Bread for All, Helvetas, Caritas and Interchurch Aid. It strives to influence Switzerland’s policies to the benefit of LDCs and developing countries, its goals being sustainable development and a more just, peaceful and environment- friendly world that offers equal rights and opportunities to all. Alliance Sud engages in active lobbying vis-à-vis politicians, the administration, and the economy, as well as intensive outreach work (press conferences, meetings, publications). In the area of development policy, it closely monitors the impact of Swiss policies on countries in the South. This covers bilateral foreign, economic and trade policy toward these countries, as well as Switzerland’s policy in international organizations (World Bank, IMF, and WTO).


Contact details

Tel: +41 44 454 17 17

E-mail: info [at] swisscontact.org

Physical Address
Hardturmstrasse 123, CH-8005 Zürich

Swisscontact is the business-oriented independent foundation for international development cooperation. Represented in 33 countries with over 1,100 employees, Swisscontact since 1959 promotes economic, social and environmental development by supporting people integrate into local economic life to improve their incomes and livelihoods through their initiatives. Swisscontact acts as a catalyst by initiating systemic chance that foster enabling environments for entrepreneurship and facilitates access to information, skills, and markets. Swisscontact provides practical, market-oriented, and locally adapted solution to economic development challenges.


World Trade Institute (WTI)
Contact details

Tel: +41 31 631 32 70

E-mail: inquire [at] wti.org


Physical Address
World Trade Institute, University of Bern
Hallerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern

The World Trade Institute (WTI) is a leading academic institution dedicated to studies, teaching, and research in international trade and investment regulation and economic globalization and sustainability. As a center of excellence at the University of Bern with an international, interdisciplinary focus, we explore the interconnections between the fields of law, economics, and political science. The WTI provides teaching, training, consulting and research in the field of international trade regulation; its teaching programmes aim to significantly contribute to the global capacity building in this area, fostering interaction between students and professionals and allowing researchers and practitioners to pool their expertise. Its flagship academic programme is the Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) recently complemented by an advanced Master’s programme in Trade and Investment Law (TRAIL). SECO funds a number of WTI MILE programme scholarships for developing countries. In consultancy services, it has been at the cutting edge of providing tailor-made and project-specific advice and consulting services to a variety of clients, from emerging states to international donor agencies to WTO Members. As for its research network, it hosts the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) on International Trade Regulation.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Raising awareness
Support to legal frameworks and implementation
Support to improving business environment
Service packages for SMEs in the trade sector
Strengthening of standards, quality, accreditation and metrology systems
Strengthening local networks of public and private trade support and service providers
Swiss Import Promotion Programme
Supports the World Bank Groups’ Trade Facilitation Support Programme
Infrastructure financing in the energy sector
Support to the development of quality infrastructure
Investments in private equity funds and financing innovative schemes
Support to gender equality
Support to decent work