A new law making it more straightforward to trade shipping containers will add more than £1 billion to the UK economy, a Government Minister has predicted.
The Electronic Trade Documents Act – which has just received Royal Assent – removes paper-related inefficiency from import-export transactions.
Whereas currently it can take days to transfer documents of title, the changeover to digital trade documents will make it a matter of minutes.
The Act grants the same legal status to electronic trade documents as to physical trade documents, with the aim of making trade more efficient, cleaner and cheaper for firms.
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.
“Existing laws dating back to the 1800s previously meant that exporters and importers have to use paper documents to transfer ownership of the goods they are shipping – creating a costly, inefficient and outdated way of working.
UK Minister for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston, said: “This new act will make it easier for businesses to trade efficiently with each other, cutting costs and growing the UK economy by billions over time.
“It’s exciting to see the power of technology being harnessed to benefit all industries, reduce paper waste and modernise our trading laws.”