Legal recognition of electronic trade documents in the UK will boost paperless trade
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Treasury

Legal recognition of electronic trade documents in the UK will boost paperless trade

The UK Electronic Trade Documents Bill is expected to greatly improve access to trade finance, particularly for contracts that use English law.

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“There are multiple advantages to single trade windows, including security, confidence, transparency, increased speed and simplification of processes, all of which reduce risk and therefore costs of finance and insurance,” he concludes.

The UK Electronic Trade Documents Bill was something of a surprise inclusion in the UK government’s proposed legislative agenda for the 2022/23 parliamentary session, despite the Law Commission’s publication of recommendations and draft legislation to allow for the legal recognition of electronic versions of trade documents, such as bills of lading and bills of exchange, in March.

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade, describes the decision to move forward with this reform as an important step towards further digitalization of trade.

Current regulations do not recognise the possession of electronic documents, and companies are limited by the law from introducing paperless processes in their supply chain
Marco Forgione, Institute of Export and International Trade

“Current regulations do not recognise the possession of electronic documents, and companies are limited by the law from introducing paperless processes in their supply chains,” he says. “The first examples of [the new rules] are being seen in the New Zealand and Australia free-trade agreements, which include provisions on legal recognition of electronic documents and systems that allow paperless trade.”

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