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And What It Means for Australia and New Zealand…
The UK has just made a monumental stride in the realm of digital transformation by enacting the Electronic Trade Documents Bill (ETDB), which was signed into law on Thursday, 20 July 2023 (with Germany and the US close behind). This news doesn’t just mark a digital revolution in global trade; it will also fundamentally reshape how shippers in Australia and New Zealand operate.
The Rise of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill
The ETDB was first introduced in the UK Parliament on 12 October 2022 and, following widespread cross-party support, was officially passed into law in just over seven months. This Act paves the way for businesses to embrace electronic trade documents, and move away from manual and high-risk paper-based methods.
The ETDB is a set of clauses designed to promote a transition to digital trade. It allows for the use of digital bills of lading, waybills, and insurance certificates, streamlining and accelerating the trade process. The Act is a game-changer with global implications that promises to bid farewell to a flawed and manual paper-based system and realise as much as $1.1 trillion in trade and economic growth opportunities, stated by Chris Southworth, Secretary General, ICC United Kingdom.
How Does This Impact Shippers in Australia and New Zealand?
As this radical change unfolds in the UK, businesses in Australia and New Zealand are poised to reap the benefits. With the ETDB in place, trade processes are now much faster, cutting down transaction time by approximately six days, 11 hours, and 50 minutes, (a study from Singapore found the processing of a paper trade document took between 4 hours and 7 days) presenting a significant improvement in operational efficiency. As we’ve seen in the past, with Australia and New Zealand being Commonwealth countries, changes are usually adopted shortly afterwards with both countries following the lead of the UK. The era of waiting for paperwork to be processed is fading, and the speed of digital is taking its place.
The ETDB now puts the UK at the center of digital trade document innovation, which will influence how businesses in Australia and New Zealand connect with UK partners. The move to digital trade documents will facilitate smoother, quicker transactions, and foster stronger, more dynamic business relationships between our nations and the UK.
A Greener Future for International Trade
Perhaps one of the biggest successes of this development is its positive environmental impact. The digitalisation of trade documents will save an astounding three million trees each year. For Australia and New Zealand, two countries deeply committed to preserving our unique ecosystems, the digital transition signifies not just a boost to our economies, but also a leap towards sustainability and ESG compliance (including reducing CO2e).
The Beginning of a New Chapter
With the signing of the ETDB, the UK is now leading the way towards a digital economy, likely inspiring other nations to follow suit. For shippers in Australia and New Zealand, the digital era of trade has just begun, and there is immense potential for growth, efficiency, and cost savings. Now is the time to start looking into how you’ll begin your own journey of digitalisation. It’s time to say goodbye to the era of slow, paper-laden trade, and welcome a new dawn of digital trade documentation.