Singapore takes the lead in promoting e-bills of lading

Singapore authorities are amending existing legislation to ensure the republic remains at the forefront of the digitalisation of global trade.

A pilot initiative starting later this year will turn paper-based bills of lading into electronic ones with politicians set to make relevant changes to the nation’s Electronic Transactions Act to recognise e-bills of lading.

The blockchain pilot, called TradeTrust, was announced by minister for communications and information S. Iswaran in parliament yesterday.

Iswaran said: “TradeTrust will enhance our attractiveness as a business hub and improve the efficiency of our trading and logistics sectors… The Info-communications and Media Development Authority (IMDA) and other government agencies are now working with industry partners to conduct proof-of-concept trials and will provide more details later.”

Government statistics show trade document processing and administration adds an estimated 20% to the physical cost of shipping a single container.

TradeTrust comes soon after the republic’s largest boxline, Pacific International Lines (PIL), conducted a groudbreaking e-bills of lading pilot with IBM last October which ultimately saw the arrival of mandarins to Singapore shipped from China in time for Chinese new year celebrations last month.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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