Located at the meeting point of many historic European trading routes, yet lacking mineral resources of its own, Switzerland has always relied heavily on external exchange. Today it is one of the world’s leading centres for trading commodities.

These include metals, oil, coal and gas, coffee, sugar, cereals and cotton – most of which never enter Swiss soil. The sector also incorporates specialist fields from freight and trade finance to the inspection and certification of goods.

Key centres include the canton of Zug and the city of Geneva: in Europe second only to London for trading and shipping. Basel is home of the logistics sector as well as Switzerland’s merchant navy, the most modern in the world.

Among the global players found here are giants such as Nestlé, the world’s largest food company; its base is Vevey on Lake Geneva, but about 97% of staff work outside Switzerland. Many other multinational companies, such as Kraft, have chosen Switzerland as the site for their European headquarters.

All about the Business Destination Switzerland

500 companies based in Switzerland

Switzerland has about 500 companies with activities directly relating to commodity shipping and trading.Traders are mostly based in Geneva, the Zug area and Lugano.


  • The city of Geneva handles about one fifth of the world’s shipping activities, half the world’s coffee transactions and one third of the world’s traded cotton, cereal, oil products and sugar.
  • Geneva is home to about 400 trading companies, supported by a multitude of insurance and reinsurance companies, international law firms, banks, accounting firms, forwarding agents, management and business consultants, specialists in inspection, verification and arbitration, surveillance and security firms and, most recently, information security specialists.
  • Geneva and the surrounding region is the world’s leading centre of trade finance, handling 40% to 60% of global transactions. It is number one worldwide in inspection and certification.
  • The region’s double role – major commodity trading hub and home to hundreds of international organizations – is unique worldwide, and makes for an unrivalled concentration of specialist skills. Conference organisers can benefit in a variety of ways – for example, booking international experts to speak at presentations.


  • Basel is the country’s major logistic centre. The River Rhine offers Switzerland’s only direct access to the sea; the port in Basel, located on the borders with France and Switzerland, is the country’s leading goods transportation hub, responsible for more than 10 per cent of imports. Ticino is another important hub.
  • Basel’s harbours and the scenic stretches of river upstream and downstream make an original backdrop for presentations and other events: on a scheduled cruise or a private charter boat trip.

Event venues and options for visits

  • Event venues range from the World Trade Center in Zürich ( to a variety of premises relating to specific commodities, from cocoa and milk products to cereals and coffee.
  • Options for visits and private events include chocolate factories throughout the country, cheese dairies, and a variety of museums from the Caferama coffee museum attached to Europe’s highest-altitude coffee roasting facility in the Graubünden Alps ( to the Alimentarium museum of food and nutrition ( housed in the former administration offices of Nestlé by Lake Geneva.