The mood amongst Swiss traders at the GTR Commodity Trade Finance conference in Lugano at the end of September was one of resilience against the challenges brought about by commodity price levels, upcoming regulatory changes and the rise of Asian competition.

According to Stéphane Graber, secretary general at the Swiss Trading & Shipping Association (STSA), the impact of the fall in commodity prices on Swiss traders is a complex matter to assess, depending which aspect of the business is considered. “Pure commodity trader activities were covered against price fluctuation […] On the asset side, so extractive or productive side, we see more turbulent times with difficulties to finance and have a good return on investment,” he told GTR on the sidelines of the event.

Despite these and other challenges ahead, delegates and speakers at the conference were confident Switzerland could remain an important hub. For Alexander Peters, Sahara group CFO and Swiss Commodity Club board director, co-operation was key in ensuring Switzerland’s future as a commodity trading hub. “We all need to work together to create a better and safer environment for Swiss commodity traders, [otherwise] there may be a shift of commodity traders to different jurisdictions where they have better conditions to work and a better, lower price environment.”