Commodity Trade and Development

Commodity Trade and Development

World commodity exports increased fivefold since 1995 and reached an all-time high of 33% of merchandise trade by 2011. 59% of metals and ores, 63% of coal and 64% of oil consumed in the world originate in developing countries. 60% (and rising) of global mining production comes from politically unstable and extremely unstable countries. While commodities prices since 2002 have staged an unprecedented boom, the impact of the boom on poverty levels in commodity-dependant developing countries remains questionable.

According to a Swiss Government Report as well as independent sources, Switzerland is the most important commodity trading hub worldwide.

The Analysis and Policy Division follows the international debates from a development policy perspective, disseminates evidence-based knowledge, and contributes to coherent Swiss policies relevant to commodity trade.

Contact: Véronique Bourquin BQV (


​​TRAVERSE: Corruption in the Commodity Sector                     

Follow-up of the event TRAVERSE including video footage and a paper written by moderator Markus Mugglin

The majority of the world’s poor live in countries that are rich in natural resources. All too often, the windfall in revenues from the commodities business trickles down to the mere few. Leaving little for the many. The sector is undeniably more transparent than it was a few years ago. But this is still not enough. New strategies are required – strategies that take the extraction of natural resources as their starting point. Strategies that focus on those who work in often precarious conditions, yet barely reap any of the rewards. There is also work for the development agencies to do.

Markus Mugglin, the moderator of the event, furthermore prepared a paper addressing the most pertinent challenges with regard to corruption in the commodities sector for Switzerland and SDC (in German):

Switzerland and corruption in the commodities sector by Markus Mugglin (PDF in German)

Here you can find the video including selected statements by the experts on their take home messages. 


​​Policy Coherence in the commodities sector: The case of mercury

January 2017
Policy Brief NADEL ETH


Policy Coherence in the commodities sector: The case of mercury

This paper critically assesses the different policies of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss Development Agency (SDC) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) with regard to coherence issues in the commodities sector. Detecting significant incoherencies between the policies of the aforementioned governmental units, this paper submits the following recommendations for the Swiss administration:

Recommendation 1: Extend due diligence downstream the value chain

Recommendation 2: Institutionalize policy coherence due diligence

Recommendation 3: Capitalize on existing technical knowledge and previous investments



- African Economic Outlook:
- Natural resource governance institute:
- Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Dossier: Switzerland and commodity trading.
- UNCTAD: Special Unit on Commodities.