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Person using laptops with electronic documents coming up

UK traders could save £1.1bn over the next decade should the Electronic Trade Documents Bill successfully be passed into law this month, tech and digital economy minister Paul Scully has said.

The Electronic Trade Documents Bill will give digital documentation the same legal footing as paperwork in trade and trade finance.

It cleared the Commons on Monday and will now return to the House of Lords, the Press Association reports. The upper chamber has already scrutinised the bill, but peers will now have the chance to consider amendments made by MPs.

The bill has cross-party support and is expected to receive Royal Assent before summer recess, before entering into force in the autumn.


Scully this week told the Commons that the bill will put the UK at the “forefront of international trade as thought leaders” when passed.

“This Bill will put the United Kingdom ahead of not only the G7 countries but almost the whole world.

“The UK is setting the approach which other jurisdictions will seek to follow, not just on the digitalisation of trade documents, but the future digitalisation of all trade towards which this Bill is an important first step.”

He added that it could save businesses “an estimated £1.1bn over the next 10 years”.

His Labour shadow, Alex Davies-Jones, said the opposition supported the bill as a “long-overdue reform”. He added that paper documents have a “significant environmental cost”.

‘World leading border’

The Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director general Marco Forgione agrees with both MPs that the bill is a “vital development for the improvement of the efficiency and sustainability of international trade”.

“The bill will place electronic trading documents on the same legal footing as paper documents and enable businesses to move from paper-based to digital-based transactions.

“This will have a considerably positive impact on costs, duration and environmental impact of customs and border processes and an overall improvement of efficiency for trade administration costs.

“IOE&IT is already helping its members to understand the importance of this bill and how it can help them trade more effectively with the world.

“This bill is an essential part of creating a world leading  border system and encouraging more trade.”

IOE&IT will soon be announcing a free webinar about the implications of the bill, which is likely to take place in early September.

It is also already delivers training courses, alongside the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI), to support traders to prepare for digital trade.

‘Radical simplification’

Chris Southworth, the secretary general of the ICC’s UK branch, agrees with Forgione about the importance of the bill.

“The Electronic Trade Documents Bill is the most significant piece of trade legislation in a generation,” he told Politico’s Morning Trade bulletin yesterday (10 July).

The law will lead to “a radical simplification of trade processes and all the associated costs and inefficiencies,” he added.


According to City AM, the bill followed recommendations from the Law Commission for England and Wales.

When passed, it will apply to all four UK nations, with some exceptions for certain clauses.

Training opportunity

The Electronic Trade Documents Bill is set to change how trade is done.

Take our digital trade training courses to make sure you’re prepared for trade in a new environment.

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