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Trafigura shifts trading centre to Singapore

* Singapore will be “main booking entity” for trades

* CFO Lorinet to move from Switzerland this year

* Taxes in Singapore can be lower than Switzerland

* Gunvor says will seek to expand in Asia

GENEVA/SINGAPORE, May 23 (Reuters) - Swiss-based commodities trading firm Trafigura said on Wednesday that Singapore would become its main trading centre as it seeks to tap booming demand for resources in the region.

Asian economic growth led by China is causing a shift in the global demand centre from West to East, prompting a hiring spree among the city state’s commodity houses.

“Trafigura Pte Ltd, the Group’s long established Singaporean entity, will ... become the main booking entity for the group’s trading activities,” the firm told Reuters in a statement.

As part of the expansion, Trafigura’s chief financial officer Pierre Lorinet will move from Geneva to Singapore later this year and take on the additional role as Asia Pacific Managing Director, the firm added.

The move will not affect staff in other offices globally, Trafigura said. Previously, Trafigura’s main centre for trade flows was in Amsterdam, where the company is legally registered.

Trafigura, which says it is the world’s third biggest trader of raw materials, told Reuters earlier this month it was seeking further acquisitions in the region after buying a stake in Nagarjuna Oil Corp Ltd’s planned Indian refinery.

Geneva, with its low corporate taxes and proximity to major banks, vies with London, Dubai and Singapore to be the world’s top commodities trading hub and is the base for major traders like Vitol, Gunvor and Mercuria.

Typically trading companies in Geneva are categorised as “auxiliary companies” and pay around 12 percent corporate tax.

Taxes can be even more favourable in Singapore, which allows commodity firms with qualifying income under ‘The Global Trader Programme’ to benefit from a concessionary tax rate of 10 percent, according to a government website.

Proximity to China is also a major lure.

“People want to be close to their clients, and they want Mandarin-speaking traders,” said a Swiss-based oil broker.

Rival Swiss-based trading house Gunvor said it planned to expand its activities further in Singapore.

“There are no current plans to move the headquarters to Singapore, but Gunvor is increasing its emphasis on Asia constantly, and it is its fastest growing operation,” said Gunvor spokesman Stuart Leasor. (Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva, Florence Tan and Saeed Hasan in Singapore; Editing by Will Waterman)

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