Strengthening trade links
The head of bilateral relations at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Livia Leu is at the forefront of Switzerland’s economic ties with countries in Africa. She is responsible for coordinating the activities of her secretariat with the ministry of foreign affairs and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Leu told our sister publication Jeune Afrique that the Swiss government has four principal partners in Africa: Egypt, Ghana, South Africa and Tunisia. She added: “With the Arab Spring, we strengthened our presence in North Africa, which became a priority area. Our activities relate to the improvement of economic performance and the diversification of their exports.” A lawyer by training, Leu is a veteran of the Swiss foreign ministry, and served as ambassador to Iran from 2009-2013. She was the ministry’s director for political affairs for the Middle East and Africa from 2006, and has worked at the Swiss embassy to the United Nations.