The International Chamber of Commerce UK and the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation have launched a major report – Seizing the moment: Unleashing the potential of trade digitalisation – which for the first time sets out the tangible benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Act and the opportunities this offers international trading companies. 

The report is aimed at key decision-makers in corporate finance and strategy teams within companies, and policymakers within governments. It highlights how the change in law now enables transactions to happen in minutes, not weeks and months, allowing companies to handle finance with much more agility. Evidence shows that this can result in a 100% increase in trade flow, 15% increase in profitability and an 18% reduction in shipping costs. 

A total of 16 case studies are included in this report, covering UK imports and exports, digital transactions across other jurisdictions, delivering a paperless trade ecosystem, and innovations in trade finance.

The report also acknowledges that though momentum on trade digitalisation is growing, barriers still remain. The fragmented nature of trade processes within companies mirrors that across government departments and the wider trade ecosystem. To capture and scale the benefits requires stronger coordination. 

The law aligns the UK to Singaporean and US trade regimes enabling 80-90% of all international trade transactions to now be handled digitally including 60% of global trade finance. This represents a potential $10 trillion in trade growth across the G7 and Commonwealth.  

Commenting on this, ICC UK secretary general, Chris Southworth, said: “We believe the time is now for a much-needed overhaul of the way we trade. It is time to remove paper and antiquated processes once and for all and use far more effective ways of operating using technology. This report begins to set out the scale of the opportunity on offer.”

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The UK’s minister for exports and parliamentary under secretary of state, Malcolm Offord, said: “The Electronic Trade Documents Act is a game changer for both the UK and world trade, cutting costs for businesses and helping to grow the UK economy. We’re backing British businesses by knocking down trade barriers, signing new trade deals, giving expert advice via our Export Support Service and funding through UK Export Finance – our award-winning export credit agency”.