The four members of the European Free Trade Association and Vietnam will start examining the possibility of establishing a free trade agreement, Switzerland said Tuesday.
"On 19 May, a feasibility study for a free trade agreement between the EFTA states and Vietnam will officially be launched in Geneva," said the Swiss Economy Ministry in a statement.
"The Joint Study Group will examine all topics covered by comprehensive free trade agreements such as trade in goods, trade in services, investment, government procurement, intellectual property rights, competition," added the ministry.
Results of the study would be ready within a year, it said.
The EFTA member states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and Vietnam would then decide if they would open formal negotiations for a free trade deal.
The announcement came as Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet was in Switzerland for an official visit.
The president held talks on Tuesday with his Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on bilateral issues, economic relations, development cooperation, as well as international political issues.
Switzerland is the 19th biggest foreign investor in Vietnam. It imported 2.142 billion francs (â‚¬1.529 billion, US$1.891 billion) worth of goods from Vietnam in 2009.
Exports from Switzerland to the Asian country last year amounted to 559 million francs.