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Digital first for British manufacturing business

For the first time ever, a cross-border shipment has been processed entirely digitally, rather than via physical customs documents.

The shipment of a valve, produced by Burnley-based manufacturer Fort Vale and facilitated by UK and Singapore-based tech company LogChain, set off from Manchester Airport and arrived in Singapore earlier this week.

What set this shipment apart was its reliance on electronic trade documents and entirely digital logistics records, all securely recorded on a high-level distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform spanning across two jurisdictions.

Managing various stages of this groundbreaking transfer were a consortium of companies including Singapore Airlines, NG Transport, Woodland Group, BT Rune, and EES Freight Services. The entire operation unfolded without the need for paper documentation, thanks to the advanced capabilities of the LogChain platform.

The news comes following the UK’s digital trade agreement with Singapore, which facilitated electronic trade, and the introduction of the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) which came into force on September 20. The Act made the UK the first G7 country to place electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents.

Global Sales and Marketing Director of Fort Vale, Graham Blanchard said: “Fort Vale are extremely enthusiastic and excited by the prospect of successful digital trade transactions. As an organisation Fort Vale exports around 90% of its products worldwide. A significant number of our key accounts are based in Singapore and as such, the opportunity to be part of this historic moment was something not to miss.

“Fort Vale see the benefits of security, efficiency, cost savings and reduced risk of delays as real positives not only for our organisation, but as a contribution to frictionless trade between the UK and Singapore as a whole.”

The Government suggests the move could generate £1.14 billion for the UK economy over the next decade.

Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston said: “Digitalised trade will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for firms to do business around the world, saving them significant sums of money. In a world where everyone pays for things digitally, it’s high time we tear up the pointless paperwork and get with the 21st Century."

He added: “This is a landmark moment for the future of international trade and I am delighted the UK is leading the way in using technology to make things easier for our companies.”



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