Commodities Summit in Lausanne ignores European and Swiss transparency debates

Zurich/Lausanne, 15.04.2013 - The ‘‘Global Commodities Summit“ to be held tomorrow for the second time on the shores of Lake Geneva underlines the importance of Switzerland as a trading hub. However a discussion of the Federal Council’s Commodities Report is missing from the programme, as well as the debate on the new transparency rules of the EU. BD is on the spot and will attempt to bring both political topics onto the agenda of the sector meeting.

Last April “official” Switzerland had, with Deputy State Secretary Alexander Karrer, at least the opportunity of delivering the closing words at the commodities summit organised by the Financial Times (FT). This year one looks in vain on the two-day agenda for politicians from Berne or Brussels. However, there would have been no better opportunity for the Federal Councillors responsible for the recently published Commodities Report to express their concerns regarding a “transparent and socially responsible trading centre” (Recommendation 1 of the Report) directly to the bosses of the global market leaders. For the EU Commission too, Lausanne would have been the ideal place to explain to commodities firms their Transparency Directives that come into effect this summer.

But the new European obligations to disclosure will only apply to extractive activities. The global commodities trading that has developed strongly through Switzerland is not included and is therefore the “black hole” that thwarts worldwide efforts in favour of increased transparency. And this hole is huge: for the profits of the last ten years alone the FT estimates in its today’s front story a figure of about 250 billion dollars. At the same time commodity traders based in Switzerland increasingly emphasize that corporate responsibility has recently become a much more familiar concept to them. But the sector has so far noticeably focused only on developing its PR and lobbying activities. BD will therefore also verify whether the social and ecological downsides are really addressed at this sector rendezvous or whether the big players just continue to do business as usual.