A telling quote from a recent article on how mispricing and the opacity of commodities trading in Switzerland is contributing to Africa's underdevelopment :
Switzerland is a global hub for trade in commodities, and so exerts a significant influence on Africa's development. But critics say the way commodities are traded through the country is shrouded in opacity and this ultimately deprives developing regions such as Africa of revenue….For example, a 2010 study by Christian Aid showed that as Zambia's copper production soared in the 2000s, Switzerland came to account for more than half of the southern African country's exports of the commodity. But the price of Swiss re-exports of the copper was far higher than that received in Zambia.In 2008, the study estimated, Zambia's GDP would have been 80 percent higher if the copper leaving its borders in that year alone had received the same price as Switzerland. It's a pattern of trade mispricing that has persisted, critics say.A study in January by the Centre for Global Development, a trade and aid think tank, estimated that developing countries may be losing between $8 billion and $120 billion a year because of mispricing of commodities in Switzerland….In other cases, commodities such as copper will be recorded as destined for Switzerland but instead go to a Swiss-based trading house and onwards to, say, China.The Centre for Global Development study found that from 2007 to 2010, 99.8 percent of Zambia's exports to Switzerland - 27.7 percent of all its exports - were not recorded as entering Switzerland. For mineral-rich Burkina Faso, a west African gold producer, 100 percent of its exports to Switzerland over this period, accounting for 15 percent of all exports, also "vanished".
This all adds to the levels of opacity associated with Switzerland, and the companies involved have not come under the kind of international pressure for disclosure that has been exerted on the country's famously secretive banks.
More detail via Reuters. It is very strange that western governments spend a huge amount of money on development efforts whilst at the same time their companies exploit the very same countries. Perhaps it's not strange. It is all part of the cruel game they have come to call "development". A mirage rather than a real attempt to make a difference. And Switzerland is the latest example, but it is definitely not alone!
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