A recent webinar conducted by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has revealed that approximately 75% of businesses believe the forthcoming UK Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) will positively impact their operations. The legislation is slated for implementation later this month.
Digital Economy and Technology Minister Paul Scully has projected that the ETDA could yield a savings of £1.1 billion for businesses over the next ten years.
Key Insights from the Webinar The webinar featured a distinguished panel that included Kevin Shakespeare, Director of Strategic Partnerships and International Development at IOE&IT; Ilona Kawka, IOE&IT Digital Trade and Customs Specialist; Deepesh Patel, Editorial Director of Trade Finance Global; Sylwia Nowak, Senior Customs and Foreign Trade Compliance Director at Brose; and Ramin Takin, Co-founder of Exabler.
Kevin Shakespeare emphasized the significance of the Act, calling it "an opportunity to take a step forward." He also highlighted the UK's leadership role in trade digitalization, citing similar legislative advancements in countries like Singapore and the UAE. Deepesh Patel concurred, stating that the UK is well-positioned to offer valuable insights to other nations on digitalizing trade documentation.
Efficiency and Security Benefits 65% of webinar attendees indicated that the primary benefit of transitioning to digital documents would be increased speed and efficiency. An additional 23% noted improvements in security and visibility as crucial advantages. Deepesh Patel mentioned that easier access to trade data could unlock new lending opportunities for banks to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The webinar also discussed the environmental aspect, with Kevin Shakespeare suggesting that digital documentation could lead to reduced carbon emissions, as goods would spend less time idle at ports.
Challenges and Considerations Ramin Takin raised points about the diverse impact of digital documentation. Larger companies may reap immediate benefits, while SMEs may experience a slower realization of value. He also brought up questions about the current state of technology infrastructure, such as system reliability and information liability, as areas requiring further clarity.
A secondary poll conducted during the webinar revealed that 36% of participants viewed "ensuring partners are on board" as the most significant challenge. An additional 29% highlighted IT skills and implementation as areas of concern.
Sylwia Nowak advocated for clear guidance on the Act's application and suggested that the ETDA could serve as the foundation for a broader legal framework. Ilona Kawka emphasized the importance of aligning the Act with other global trade initiatives.
Kevin Shakespeare concluded the webinar by noting that digital trade has the potential to benefit not just large corporations but also SMEs, particularly in developing economies like Africa.