Paperless trade for UK businesses to boost growth

A new bill will see paper trade documents replaced by digital ones to reduce administration costs and reduce the carbon footprint of businesses.

The Electronic Trade Documents Bill will make digital documentation legally recognised and reduce processing times to 20 seconds as well as carbon emissions reduced by at least 10 per cent.

The bill, expected to be introduced in Parliament on Thursday (13 October), will boost the UK’s international trade, already worth more than £1.4 trillion, and will reduce the estimated 28.5 billion paper trade documents printed and flown around the world daily.

Business-to-business documents such as bills of lading — a contract between parties involved in shipping goods — and bills of exchange — used to help importers and exporters complete transactions — currently have to be paper-based due to longstanding laws.

Under the Electronic Trade Documents Bill, digital trade documents will be put on the same legal footing as their paper-based equivalents to give UK businesses more choice and flexibility in how they trade.

The bill will modernise old legislation such as the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992.

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