On tuesday April 9th, the Credit Suisse forum sets the stage for another successful commodity trading event in Geneva: Trading Forum 2019 organized by the S.R.I.C Foundation (the Swiss Research institute on Commodities) and sponsored by major participants of the industry such as EY, LDC, Mercuria, Credit Suisse, Refinitiv (Thomson Reuters) and more.

“Be the driver of change and not just an observer” Mr. Esteve, STSA president.

The morning plenary session opened with a speech from the newly appointed president of STSA Mr Esteve (ECOM) emphasizing the importance of such venue and the role of the association of commodity trading participants at large, to share a better understanding of the business, gather expectations from the civil society, expose the next generations to international trade and address concerns on sustainability issues.

With a panel composed of selective industry specialists, the forum hosted two plenary sessions and two workshops throughout the day.

“Maybe people should start filling up their tanks” Mr. Hasler, Macquarie Petroleum Analyst

The participants of the first plenary session addressed the current situation and future prospects for each major commodity market: Agriculture, Metals, Energy and Shipping. Senior analysts from major industry players, such as IXM for metals and Macquarie for Oil, shared their vision on the coming industry-specific challenges. Among others, the recurring themes were the current Trump trade war, china emissions, IMO 2020, lesser EV subsidies and the impact of new technologies such as blockchain and RPA.

In the afternoon two workshops took place:

  • “Business and Human rights” with renowned specialists such as Dr. Ruysschaert (Swissaid) specialist in Political Ecology. The main theme was developed around the recent UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights, framing commodity trading activities and its impact on local populations. These guidelines were adopted by Switzerland and implemented through the Swiss federal department of foreign affairs (FDFA) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
  • “Finance Regulation & Trade Finance”: can technology assist trade finance with regulation and compliance issues? Among other participants Mr Sanchez, (former Executive BM of EFA) and Ms Zymbino (Bic Bred) Mr Aletti (ITC) emphasized the importance of human appreciation as opposed to technology in certain aspects of trade finance, such as business relationship in banking, the challenges of quantifying illiquid commodities such as processed products or rice and how to structure those financings. Alternatively, technology could prove very useful on other aspects of trade finance such as cost effectiveness in the automation of execution tasks and further reach with the example of ITC’s “opportunity network” emphasizing technology to provide technical assistance to SME in third world countries.

The afternoon plenary session addressed the topic of:” Technology and Digitalization”. Innovation in commodity trading and what added value to expect from technology. Block chain is now developing its reach on the fields of trade finance, logistics and derivative trade. Combined with artificial intelligence, the processes get streamlined and the documentation becomes digitalized while companies face the challenge of computing an ever-growing amount of data.

The last words were given by Mr. Graber (STSA Secretary General) and Mr. Maudet (State Councelor) on the importance of Geneva as a global hub in commodity trading and as an incubator of best practices due to its concentration of industry leaders. Owing to the fruitful outcomes of this year’s edition, we are looking forward to next year’s Trading Forum. More information can be obtained through STSA’s website.

Editor: Jean-Manuel REME