UK Electronic Trade Document Bill becomes Law

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It is Official – UK Electronic Trade Document Bill becomes Law

The much anticipated UK Electronic Trade Document Bill a product 5 years in the making, became law today (20th Sep 2023) after the Electronic Trade Documents Act received Royal Assent which is the final step in the UK’s mission to digitalise Trade Documents..

A press release from the UK Government read “The simple yet impactful change is estimated to add over £1 billion to the British economy over the next decade by making trade more straightforward, efficient and sustainable.

Paul Scully, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy said “The global container shipping industry generates billions of paper documents a year – and in reality there’s no need for the immense costs UK businesses have to face in producing them, and the detrimental environmental impact that this has.“..

What may look to many of us as a small change to the law is something that will have a massive impact on the way UK firms trade, and in turn, is going to boost our economy by over £1 billion over the next decade,” added Scully..

The government estimates that the new law could generate a net benefit of £1.14 billion for the British economy over the next decade for UK businesses trading across the world..

shipping and freight resource services

Nigel Huddleston, UK’s Minister for International Trade said “This new act will make it easier for businesses to trade efficiently with each other, cutting costs and growing the UK economy by billions over time.“..

It’s exciting to see the power of technology being harnessed to benefit all industries, reduce paper waste and modernise our trading laws,” added Huddleston..

Adding his voice to this achievement, Chris Southworth Secretary General of ICC UK said “The Electronic Trade Documents Act is a game changing piece of law not just for the UK but also for world trade. The Act will enable companies to finally remove all the paper and inefficiency that exists in trade today and ensure that future trade is far cheaper, faster, simpler and more sustainable. This presents a once in a generation opportunity to transform the trading system and help us drive much needed economic growth.

Next Steps

With English law being followed by many countries around the world for international trade and shipping activities, the passing of this bill makes it easier for countries using this law and following the trade digitalisation agenda to possibly follow suit although it is not a requirement..

Even within the UK, the passing of this law does NOT mean that UK businesses must use or follow the digital trade documentation process as paper documentation is still the preferred mode and is still acceptable to all authorities..

The passing of this bill will add some impetus to the commitment made earlier this year by the 9 members of DCSA to convert 50% of paper bills of lading to electronic bills of lading within the next 5 years and 100% by 2030..

The International Chamber of Commerce in UK is calling on UK traders to get ready to go digital with a time frame of 8 weeks until commencement..

Well done to UK, the first G7 country to adopt an Electronic Trade Document Bill..