The 1970s were marked by the oil crisis, the onset of globalisation and growing environmental problems, which were brought to the public's attention by the Club of Rome with its report "The Limits to Growth" in 1972.
In Switzerland, Parliament granted its first financial assistance loan in 1971, for 400 million francs. Around half of this was to be allocated to participations in the International Development Association (IDA), regional development banks and financing mechanisms in the area of trade (e.g. buffer stocks and diversification funds), while the rest was allocated to bilateral measures (such as transfer and mixed credits, balance-of-payments assistance and "integrated projects", i.e. projects entailing both financial support as well as technical assistance). In 1974, the developing world called for the establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) through the United Nations.
In Switzerland, the Federal Act on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid was passed in 1976 after a long and tense debate. Hailed as a prime example of Switzerland's policy of compromise, the Act formed a comprehensive, coherent framework for all aspects of Swiss development cooperation (humanitarian, bilateral and multilateral technical and financial assistance). The new legislation was implemented for the first time in 1978 in the form of a credit facility for "economic and trade-policy measures" for the amount of 200 million francs. The corresponding message mentioned for the first time the idea of creating a Swiss society for development financing . In 1979, the Trade Division became known as the Federal Office of Foreign Economic Affairs (FOFEA).
Foreign economic policy (...) and development policy (...) are inseparably linked to each other, with both striving towards the same long-term goal: creating the conditions at the national and international level that will allow all nations to benefit from their participation in the global economy.
Alois Dobler, member of the Council of States (during the Council of States debate on the first credit facility for economic and trade-policy measures, 1978)