The Swiss commodity sector has come under increasing scrutiny in the last few years as a result of the substantial growth experienced by global commodity trade since 2002 and the importance of Switzerland as a leading international commodity trading hub. These developments have put commodity trading squarely on the agenda of Swiss institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Swiss academia has also started engaging in the debate, but faced considerable challenges in contributing to an informed dialogue due to the overall paucity of data still surrounding cross-border and transit activities of Swiss-based commodity companies active in physical and derivatives trading, and the consequent substantial gaps in existing literature as to the impacts associated with commodity investment and trading in Switzerland and in host countries. This project aims at identifying main knowledge gaps and providing a basis for further academic research on commodity investment and trading, while informing current policy debates and decision-making processes in Switzerland.
Research for this paper was jointly conducted by the World Trade Institute (WTI) of the University of Bern, the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, and the Institute for Business Ethics (IWE) of the University of St. Gallen (all Switzerland). The paper was written in the context of the project “Global change and developing countries: Why should we care?” managed by the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) and the Forum for Climate and Global Change (ProClim). This paper was co-sponsored by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).