Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


Switzerland and the Commodities Trade

Making the Commodity Sector Work for Developing Countries

Local Impacts, Global Links, and Knowledge Gaps

Switzerland occupies an important position in the global trade of hard and soft commodities. Companies headquartered within its borders directly or indirectly shape commodity extraction practices around the world, some of which carry considerable negative environmental and social risks on the ground, particularly in fragile contexts. Minimizing these risks and maximizing shared economic gains could enable mutually beneficial development and counteract persistent social and political inequality. This factsheet examines these issues locally in developing countries – complementing a previous factsheet A that focused on Switzerland’s role as a trading hub. It further highlights promising approaches for research and policy change with regard to developing country governments, involved companies, trading hubs, and the international community.

Making the Commodity Sector Work for Developing Countries (PDF, 2.3 MB) Den Rohstoffsektor in Entwicklungsländern nachhaltig gestalten (PDF, 2.4 MB) Des matières premières profitables aux pays en développement (PDF, 2.3 MB)

Switzerland and the Commodities Trade

Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

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, environmental 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 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 (English) (PDF, 480KB) Die Schweiz und der Rohstoffhandel (Deutsch) (PDF, 477KB) La Suisse et le négoce des matières premières (Français) (PDF, 481KB)