Fabio Schvartsman, CEO, Vale
The head of the world’s biggest iron ore producer talks to Neil Hume, FT Commodities and Mining Editor, about the outlook for the steel-making commodity and his mission to make Vale a more predictable company that can deliver returns even in the most difficult market conditions
Keynote - A Government View
Grains and Oilseeds - Where do we go from here?
After a tough couple of years, the outlook for grain and oilseeds is looking brighter, much to the relief of the industry. A drought has hit Argentina and damaged its soyabean crop, sending crush margins soaring, while a cold snap in the US has supported corn prices. But with Brazil tipped to deliver another monster crop this year and US stocks plentiful, it is not clear whether the recovery can be sustained. A panel of leading industry executives will debate this and other key topics in the grains and oilseeds market.
Trade and logistics - Tackling Brazil’s transport bottlenecks
Billions of dollars have been spent improving Brazil’s port infrastructure, ending the chronic delays that have plagued exporters of commodities for many years. But the country’s transport network still requires heavy investment to tackle rail and road bottlenecks that make it difficult to shift crops from where they are produced to ports and terminals where they are loaded on ships. What are the potential solutions to Brazil’s infrastructure issues and how can the public and private sector work together to solve them? Regulators, government, officials and industry executives and groups will discuss this important issue.
Sugar and Ethanol - Brazil and beyond
Ethanol was supposed to be the safety valve for the sugar industry, soaking up excess production. However, massive harvest in Thailand and India over the past few years, has meant that the ethanol sponge has not worked. As a result world sugar prices are languishing at their lowest levels in years, heaping further pressure on the industry. So far rock-bottom prices have failed to spur any meaningful production cutbacks and speculators are betting on further falls. Not everyone is so pessimistic. Some traders believe Indian production will fall next year and with Brazil’s centre-south region set for the lowest sugar output in nearly a decade, they say talk of another super sugar surplus is misplaced.
Metals and mining - At a crossroads
After emerging from the worst downturn in a generation, the mining industry finds itself at an interesting juncture. Project pipelines need to be replenished to meet expected demand growth but shareholders are wanting higher returns and more judicious allocation of capital. Balancing these demands will not be an easy task and could have a large impact on prices. The industry also faces other pressures. In Brazil, the Samarco dam disaster has led to greater scrutiny of the mining industry, not least from powerful state prosecutors, while in Chile a new government has pledged to speed up the approval processes for big projects.
The global oil market - the outlook for investment
With oil prices back above $70 a barrel, inventories shrinking and demand growth robust, the outlook for the industry looks brighter than it has for many years. But can it last and crucially it spur fresh investment in the Americas? Or will the industry continue to sink dollars into US shale industry? Brazil has overtaken Mexico and Venezuela to become the region’s oil biggest producer and a major source of non-Opec output. The country’s pre-salt fields are reckoned to be one of the largest oil discoveries of the past 50 years, and are now attracting interest from the world’s biggest oil producers who are racing to secure stakes.The majors are looking at Argentina and its massive shale reserves, and other countries like Mexico. However, there are challenges. Some analysts think Brazil’s oil output will be flat year-on-year because of accelerating decline rates and projects delays.
The changing food landscape
How does the world meet rising demand for protein while at the same time reducing its carbon footprint? Can technology provide the answer and what part might meat substitutes, insect and plant-based proteins play in helping square this circle. This topic, of course, is of particular relevance for Brazil where the agricultural industry needs to balance it desire to grow with careful management of the environment. Achieving sustainable growth will require the correct government policies but also engagement with the private sector. A sustainable future is in everyone’s interest but can it be achieved?
Financing commodities - The view from the Americas
Trade finance is the lifeblood of the commodities trading industry. In this panel, senior bankers and industry executives will look at the key trends shaping the provision of finance. Special focus will be paid to the regional banks and institutions that are helping to support the industry. The discussion will also examine the part China, the world’s biggest consumer of commodities, could have in financing commodity projects in Brazil.
The geopolitics of commodities
The tit-for-tat trade war between the US and China threatens to have big repercussions for the agricultural market and particularly for Brazil and Argentina. If Beijing is forced to source more of its grains and oilseeds from the Americas because US imports are more expensive, will the region be able to respond? How will global trade flows change and what other markets are vulnerable to the growing wave of protectionism. These and other questions will be examined by leading economists and analysts.
The industry plays Long or Short
In this concluding session of the summit, our audience will be given a chance to vote on key industry trends by going “long” or “short”.
Topics for discussion in this final debate led by the FT Commodities Team will include:
- China-US trade war
- $70 oil
- Soyabean crushing margins
- Brazil’s election
17.45 Close & Reception