Switzerland and the Commodities Trade - Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

This factsheet outlines key challenges, knowledge gaps, and research questions centring on Switzerland’s role and potential responsibility as a leading commodity hub. It concludes with suggestions of possible avenues for future research and policy.

Switzerland  and the Commodities Trade

Switzerland has recently emerged as one of the world’s most important hubs in the global trade of commodities. But its rise has been accompanied by concerns about transparency, appropriate regulation, and risks to resource-exporting developing countries. A growing body of evidence points not only to beneficial, but also to harmful effects of commodities trading and extraction on resource-exporting poor countries. These include risks of undiversified economic development, political corruption, environmen- tal damage, and human rights violations.

However, there is a profound lack of scientific research on the role of major commodity hubs like Switzerland, where vital commodities such as oil, metals, and grains are traded and extractive companies are headquartered. Could policy changes in Switzerland make the commodity sector more sustainable and its impact more mutually beneficial?

This factsheet was jointly conducted by the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, the World Trade Institute (WTI) of the University of Bern, and the Institute for Business Ethics (IWE) of the University of St. Gallen.

The factsheet was written in the context of the project “Global change and developing countries: why should we care?” managed by the KFPE and the Forum for Climate and Global Change (ProClim).

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Switzerland and the commodities trade: Factsheets from Swiss researchers

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