Agricultural Commodity Traders in Switzerland

Benefitting from Misery?

Switzerland is not only home to the world’s largest oil and mineral traders; it is also a significant trading hub for agricultural commodities such as coffee, cocoa, sugar, or grains. The majority of the globally significant agricultural traders are either based here or operate important trading branches in the country.

The sector is highly concentrated with ever fewer powerful companies who also control the production and processing stages of the industry. In low-income countries, where many of the commodities traded by Swiss-based companies are produced, human rights violations are omnipresent, ranging from the lack of living wages and incomes, to forced and child labour as well as occupational health and safety hazards. Moreover, the risk of tax dodging and corruption has been shown to be particularly high within agricultural production and trade. 

Public Eye’s 2019 report Agricultural Commodity Traders in Switzerland – Benefitting from Misery? sheds light on the opaque sector of agricultural commodity trade and the human rights violations related to activities in this business and also highlights Switzerland’s refusal to regulate the sector in ways that could address these issues, and it outlines ways to tackle the challenges at hand.