Switzerland stops short of tightening rules on commodity trading

GENEVA, March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:00am EDT

GENEVA, March 27 (Reuters) - A landmark Swiss government report into regulating the country's $20 billion commodities sector has stopped short of proposing any new or tighter rules on trading companies.

The long-awaited report published on Wednesday said around 500 companies in the sector and their 10,000 employees contributed about 3.5 percent to Swiss GDP, and that Switzerland needed to regulate the sector without chasing them away.

Switzerland, home to commodities giants like Glencore and Cargill, has come under pressure from left-wing campaigners and other western countries to close regulatory gaps.

"There is no evidence, at present, of a general trend amongst companies to move away from Switzerland, but much will depend on whether Switzerland succeeds, also in the future, in providing a competitive legal and economic setting for conducting business," it said.

"Switzerland thus faces the challenge of maintaining and strengthening the features that make it an attractive and reliable business location, including the competitiveness of its tax regime and the efficiency of its financial centres."

The report said the industry faced real and reputational challenges such as human rights, environmental protection, transparency and corruption, but such questions must be dealt with "in a constructive and sufficiently nuanced manner".

"Switzerland has a strategic interest in supporting the sustainable development also of this industry," it said.

The report's 17 recommendations, which were adopted by Switzerland's Federal Council, mainly sought to reinforce existing standards and support international efforts to strengthen transparency, without promising any unilateral action.

Swiss officals had previously told Reuters that commodity firms, including the trading sector, should police themselves.

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