2013-11-14 – The Origin and Future of Swiss Trading

“Swiss Made” – Origin and Future of Swiss Commodity Trading

GTSA - Prop Club Logo

14th November 2013

The Propeller Club and the Geneva Trading and Shipping Association jointly organised an evening event with Mr. James Breiding, author of Swiss Made, to be followed by a panel discussion on the subject of “Commodity trading: Opportunities and Challenges for the Swiss Economy.”

The panel included Stéphane Graber of the GTSA along with senior figures from the banking and trading community.

This event presented a unique opportunity to engage with and discuss the direction of Swiss trading with those at the forefront of the business.

James Breiding
James Breiding is the co-founder of Naissance Capital, an investment boutique that provides niche investment opportunities. He has also served as a director of Rothschild Corporate Finance and as Vice President of Bank Julius Baer. He has master degrees from both the prestigious IMD Lausanne and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. James was elected as a fellow of Harvard University in connection with his research on Switzerland and he recently published the book, ‘Swiss Made’, (review attached) lauded for its «objective view of this somewhat controversial nation [Switzerland] ». Swiss Made has since been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the field of Economic History and is used in 40 Swiss embassies around the world as a diplomatic gift. French and Chinese editions are planned.

Venue:Côté Cour Côté Jardin, Rue de la Chapelle 8, 1207 Geneva

Date & Time: November 14th 2013, 18:30-20:30, with hot food and drinks to follow the discussion.

Event Report: 

On 14 November 2013 the Propeller Club and GTSA held a joint event at Côté Cour Côté Jardin on the origin and future of Swiss commodity trading. The guest speaker was James Breiding, author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated ‘Swiss Made: The Untold Story Behind Switzerland’s Success’. Following Breiding’s talk he joined a panel to discuss the issues, made up of Peter Hendry, Geert Descheemaeker (Shipping Asset Mangement), Stéphane Graber (GTSA) and chaired by Sarah Hunt (Holman Fenwick Willan).

Breiding gave a fascinating presentation, charting the rise of Switzerland and explaining how, in his words, “a tiny, landlocked country with few natural advantages” had come to “rank alongside the biggest and most powerful global competitors”. He then looked at the success of Switzerland’s commodity trading, from its early roots with 18th century mercenaries building contacts throughout Europe, through Marc Rich and the breakup of the “Seven Sisters” of oil, to the position today. Finally he explained how, although low taxes were an important part of Switzerland’s success, they were just one factor along with the ease of obtaining financing, the transportation expertise, the people’s discretion and the high quality of life.

The overriding theme of the panel discussion was optimism about the future of trading in Switzerland. Challenges were discussed, including the increasing regulatory and tax pressure from the US and EU, and the rise of alternative trading-hubs such as Singapore. However the panel were in agreement that there is such a cluster of trading experience and expertise in Switzerland, drawing in talented people from around the world, that its position as the world’s commodity trading hub is safe for the foreseeable future.