CargoX | MLETR opening the door for electronic trade documents
Why The CargoX Platform
Platform Help Login Register
Exporting to Egypt? Prepare for Egyptian ACI NOW. Start here

MLETR opening the door for electronic trade documents

Oct. 5, 2022, 2 p.m.

Last year saw tremendous growth in commitments to digitise international trade document flows and to accept electronic bills of lading and other electronic trade documents as standard and legally valid documents.

A revolution has been simmering for a while, and with the additional heat from the COVID-19 pandemic things were brought to boil in 2022.

Various industries, international trade groups and even groups of nations, have started to actively recognize bottlenecks and hurdles that have until now delayed the digitalization in global trade. The primary emphasis, of course, is on the digitization of document flows, and everything else will follow. 

Consolidated effort for maximum output

At the central stage of the revolution is the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and its Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), while the private sector is organising around the industry standardisation initiative of major shipping line operators under Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), which established the Future International Trade (FIT) alliance with several leading international organisations, including BIMCO, FIATA, ICC and SWIFT.

It is crucial to understand how countries and territories are approaching the implementation of the MLETR or compatible guidelines into their national legislation, and how international frameworks are forged. 

Measuring digitalisation

To better follow the progress around the globe, the United Nations have started working on a unified methodology and a set of questionnaires to help measure progress in the field of electronic trade document adoption. The surveys will make it possible for the UN to obtain a global overview and ensure transparency, contributing towards a stable environment for economic operators and investment planners. 

Activities and strategies

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is putting a lot of effort in removing legal obstacles for global electronic trade documentation implementation. Their Legal Reform Board has set as their main goal for 2022 to obtain the commitment from 100 countries to digitalise trade documentation and adopt the MLETR concept. This is a giant step, especially compared to the goal of bringing 7 countries on board in 2021 – and it seems that they are getting there. (See details for each country below.)

The ratification of the UN ESCAP Paperless Trade Framework will move things even further. The framework has been ratified and implementation is already underway, – and alignment with MLETR and WTO/ICC digital interoperability standards is a major part of that. The framework supports digitalisation efforts in 54 countries, all of which are willing to provide technical support to co-members just starting on the path of digitalization.

Countries engaged in e-trade

Let us quickly look at the current state of affairs around the globe. In the year 2021 seven states implemented MLETR in their legislation: Bahrain, Belize, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone.

Additionally, as many as 86 countries are currently in early stages of the digitalisation process, because of the draft agreement of the World Trade Organization members on e-trade. It is expected – not assured! – that the agreement will be finalised at the 13th Ministerial Conference, the MC13 WTO in 2024. This already represents a major leap forward, confirming global progress in the field. This agreement is expected to be one of the drivers of global trade digitalisation.

The United Kingdom plans to soon join the group of countries adopting MLETR – the acceptance into law of their Electronic Trade Document Bill (ETDB) is planned for the first half of 2023. Germany, which hosted the G7 summit in 2022, and Japan, the hosts of the 2023 G7 summit, are expected to follow soon.

As approximately 80 percent of countries adhere to the Anglo-Saxon legal system, it is to be expected that many of these countries will be actively adopting MLETR as soon as UK leads the way. 

The United States of America are running their own separate line of activities to update their trade legislation and the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) into which electronic trade documentation concepts are being introduced. 

On the other side of the globe China is also highly active has established a special working group, and is actively planning the next steps for digitalisation. Major reforms are expected in 2023 or 2024. 

The European Union, on the other hand, is working on forging a pan-European solution, but expects to extend the EIDAS framework to include the trade documentation as the first step in the digitalisation of the whole region. 

France is already developing the next steps within their Paris Europlace working group, and their reform is planned for 2023/2024. This is expected to expedite reforms in other francophonic countries – Senegal, Benin, Togo

Thailand has already formed a working group and they are running pilot projects for interoperability with Singapore and Japan. Their experts have established high level collaboration with the UK. 

Get more information

This is just a brief interim report on the status of electronic trade document adoption across the globe – a process that is increasing in pace and magnitude, promising fully paperless global trade within the shortest possible time-frame.

More amazing information and progress reporting is expected at the ICC International Trade & Prosperity week, to be held 17-20 October 2022 in virtual space. See here for registration details.

Source of some of the included information: ICC United Kingdom


Other blog

How to handle original documents efficiently even when your team is working from home
13 Mar 2020
CargoX strongly believes in the importance of health and safety in providing global and local business services. Here is what you can do to handle original documents safely.
Horror story: It is SO expensive to lose a bill of lading (B/L)!
10 Mar 2020
The bill of lading is a powerful document. But nobody ever gets used to what happens if the bill of lading does not arrive …
Interview: Vjeran Ortynski, CargoX
3 Mar 2020
An interview with Vjeran Ortynski, CBDO of CargoX, for the portal, about the blockchain technology, CargoX platform, 2020 business outlook ...
How to start using CargoX Smart B/L™ in your company quickly and efficiently?
12 Sep 2019
– There is a hot new technology on the block – it must be pretty expensive and difficult to start using? – Not this time!
Hey, CIO, do you know how thoroughly your dApp can be tested?
3 Sep 2019
Testing is an essential step in introducing any application into a business environment, and it the same holds true for dApps -- blockchain-based solutions. You need to test them before deploying one in workflows where end-users will use it on a daily basis.
CargoX Smart Bill of Lading - the simplest implementation ever, with undeniable corporate benefits!
8 Mar 2019
With CargoX Smart B/L™ there is no investment necessary, no licensing fees, and no up-front costs. On the contrary – there is only so much to be benefited!
‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’
13 Oct 2018
Blog by Francisco Montenegro, CargoX Project Manager: In the center of Europe lies a bustling hub for technology and innovation – Berlin, Germany. It is true that if you have heard about Berlin, then you may have heard of a vast array of successful startups founded, headquartered, or held a major office here. CargoX is joining them.
The tide is rising for logistics to pull ahead
8 Sep 2018
Blog by Marko Filipovic, Business Development Assistant, about the rarely mentioned, yet noticeable trend of resistance to the momentum of tech innovation - a subject not often discussed. About the job description transformation in light of increasing digitization.
London: Keep calm and use the blockchain
16 Jun 2018
Blog by Patrick Vlacic, Ph.D., legal advisor, from London - the massive centre of global maritime business influence.
It is all about timing!
26 May 2018
A blog from Shanghai by Igor Jakomin, Ph. D., CBDO, with insights into reasons why startups succeed! (May 14-20)

Your free demo session with our experts

Please fill out the form below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Trying to download the logo?

We have a better idea! Find high quality visuals in our press kit section.

Visit press kit