The Queen’s Speech, presented by Prince Charles, made a priority to “champion international trade, delivering jobs across the country and growing the economy. Legislation will be introduced to enable the implementation of United Kingdom’s first new Free Trade Agreement’s since leaving the European Union.”
The 139 Bill accompanying trade lobby pack that supported the Queen’s speech also placed “electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents, removing the need for wasteful paperwork and needless bureaucracy,” endorsing trade digitalisation, and recognising that the import and export of goods and services, as summarised by the World Bank Organisation, totals 63.4% of the UK GDP.
The main benefits of the Bill are established as:
● Increasing efficiency and lowering trade administration costs for businesses because processing electronic documents is faster and cheaper than paper equivalents.
● Raising the security and compliance of trade by utilising the transparency and traceability benefits electronic documents offer.
● Realising environmental benefits from reduced use of paper and courier emissions in trade administration.
The Digital Container Shipping Association has estimated that if 50 per cent of the container shipping industry were to adopt electronic bills of lading, the collective global savings would be in the region of £3 billion. As 28.5 billion per year paper trade documents are processed, trade digitalisation is estimated to represent a 5% saving in transaction costs - effected across Bill of Lading documents.
The Bill states:
According to CargoX, as cited by Trade Finance Global, transferring a paper-based trade document can take seven to ten days, whereas processing the document electronically will reduce this to as short as 20 seconds.
The implementation of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill modernises the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992, bypassing the need for paper and ink wet signatures.