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The ICC hopes UK centre will accelerate digital trade standardization

The International Chamber of Commerce is confident that the UK Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation will spur standards.

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Digitalization initiatives are usually accompanied by high-tech launches. But in April, when the UK’s Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation was introduced by Minister of State for Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg reading from a sheaf of papers on a desk notable for the absence of any modern technology, it felt like an inauspicious start.

Nevertheless, despite the uncertainty Brexit has created around UK trade, the country has taken a lead in updating national laws to recognise commercial trade documents in digital form and align legal systems with the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records.

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Chris Southworth, ICC UK. Photo: Rahil Ahmad

As we reported last month, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill puts electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as their paper equivalents, and the extensive use of English law in bills of lading means the UK is uniquely positioned to promote the use of digital documents in international commerce.

“We have this tremendous opportunity through the electronic trade bill to tackle bureaucracy on a global level and generate the momentum we need to convince other governments to do the same,” says Chris Southworth, secretary-general of the ICC United Kingdom.


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