Geneva Golden Age of Commodity-Firm Relocation Over, Graber Says

Geneva is in consolidation mode, following a “golden age” of commodity companies relocating to the Swiss trading hub, said Stephane Graber, general secretary of the Geneva Trading & Shipping Association.

“The golden age of a great number of companies moving over is something that is over, for different reasons, fiscal but also logistic,” Graber said in an interview in Geneva. “We won’t again see the kind of growth that we had in the past 10 years.”

The city is in “consolidation mode,” Graber said. Companies moving to Geneva in the past decade created strains on schools, housing and public transport that are starting to be resolved, he said.

The development of Asian markets means commodity companies are building their presence there, according to Graber, who was a speaker at an industry conference organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“It’s clear that there is a movement toward Asia, so Singapore plays a role,” Graber said. “There’s always a competitive environment.”

That’s adding to uncertainty about future regulation and taxation of commodity trading in Switzerland. Gaber said he expects future regulation to be “pragmatic” and drawn up in consultation with traders.

“The environment will remain stable,” he said. “We’re in a society that’s become more open, so it’s normal that there are requirements that are different from 20, 30 years ago. Dusting off of the Swiss fiscal regulation wouldn’t be a bad thing, because there are also things that can be improved.”

Geneva retains its importance as a trading hub because it brings together all actors in commodity trading, including traders, shippers, certification companies and insurers, he said.

“There is no other marketplace that has all the expertise,” Graber said. “The concentration facilitates business and operations. That’s difficult to replicate.”

The GTSA is a Geneva-based, non-profit association representing the Swiss-based community of international commodity trade, finance and freight, according to its website.

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