Along with London and Singapore, Switzerland nowadays plays an essential role in the commodity trading sector worldwide. Historically, since the first decades of the twentieth century, goods such as cotton, coffee and wheat have long been negotiated through Switzerland. Successively, the contingencies of the world wars, Switzerland’s neutrality, a flexible exchange rate as well as the country’s political and economical stability have favoured the settlement of this intermediary business: suffice to mention the characteristics of the Cold War, the Egyptian cotton in the sixties, the oil crisis in ’73-’74, the developments in post-Soviet Russia and so forth. All of these factors, added to a variety of typically Swiss particularities – such as moderate taxation – have fostered Switzerland as a particularly attractive location for commodity trading and its development.
As for the situation in our country, it is a well-known fact that in the past decades, Geneva has made great efforts in this branch so that today, almost 400 companies are situated in the Lake Geneva area with a total turnover estimated at 800 billion francs and direct employment figures of over 6’000 persons. Furthermore, the goods traded are many: soft commodities (cereals, sugar, coffee, cotton), oil, steel and others.
AND COMMODITY TRADING
THE COMMODITY TRADER
A trader is an intermediary with an important role in the value chain, which begins with the supplier of commodities and ends with the consumer of the produced goods. The commodity trader usually buys goods from the producer and attempt to sell them to the processing companies, to other intermediaries or directly to the consumers; the trader will strive to achieve the highest possible gain and to guarantee the chain’s efficiency. In other words, the trader assists in matching demand and supply, often situated in different parts of the world, offering both supplier and client – at all levels of the value chain – a number of additional services, which require specific skills. Therefore, those active in the value chain can concentrate their resources and activities on their core business, while the trader takes care of selling the goods thanks to his/her knowledge of the market, transportation, logistics, accreditation and financing of these operations.