Posted: Fri 28th Jul 2023
Changes that amend 19th century regulations requiring documents needed for international trade to be paper-based have received Royal Ascent.
The change, which applies in England and Wales, aims to reduce the estimated 28.5 billion paper trade documents printed and flown around the world daily.
The government said that the law could generate a net benefit of £1.14 billion for the British economy over the next 10 years, while World Economic Forum research found that digitising trade documents could reduce global carbon emissions from logistics by as much as 12%.
The Act covers documents such as bills of exchange, promissory notes, bills of lading and ships' delivery orders. They previously had to be paper-based due to longstanding laws like the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992.
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."
Chris Southworth, International Chamber of Commerce UK secretary general, added:
"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."
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