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Commodities: Asia’s trading places

03 January 2012

While the US and Europe struggle, the Asia-Pacific region has prospered, propping up global prices for commodities across the spectrum from metals and minerals to food and cooking oils. Graeme Burton examines the scene.

Read more: Asia commodity finance China commodities Australia commodity finance ANZ ABN AMRO India Steel Posco National Australia Bank ArcelorMittal

The shift in the balance of trade power is reflected in the commodities trade that countries in Asia - principally China - have grown to dominate as the world's biggest customers for copper, iron ore and coal, as well as oil and gas.

As China has grown wealthier, its prosperity has spilled over into neighbouring countries as manufacturers look for lower-cost alternatives for their low-end products, with Vietnam benefiting in particular alongside Indonesia and the Philippines.

At the same time, India's development, initially led by IT services and outsourcing, is also growing in industry and manufacturing, with industrial groups such as Tata building new car plants, expanding in steel manufacturing and making major acquisitions abroad. India is also attracting major foreign investment in iron and steel.

Feeding Asia's emerging giants is a global supply chain of commodities, which ships ores from South America; grains from North and South America; coal,...


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