Digital Standards for Global Trade Transformation
Digital Trade Standards are the building blocks for global interoperability and seamless integration across international supply chains and trade. We aim to drive transparency and accessibility of trade standards currently in use, and to promote harmonisation and alignment where multiple standards may already exist.
The Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade, jointly published with the World Trade Organization, provides an overview of standards currently in use in trade and related processes. These include:
Foundational Standards and Identifier Standards for all supply chain actors to reduce translation and enable track and trace technologies.
Standards for Commercial Transactions including those for “Buy,” “Ship” and “Pay” processes.
Transport and Logistics Standards for cargo handling, port/airport clearance and real-time shipment tracking.
Standards for official control documents.
Interoperable digitalisation frameworks that support the exchange of electronic trade documents.
The Digital trade standards paper provides digitalisation recommendations for seven essential trade documents, backed by a data sharing map and glossary containing definitions and applicable global standards. Work is underway to complete this digitalisation exercise for all key trade documents listed in the WTO-ESCAP-UNCITRAL Cross Border Paperless Trade Toolkit, by early 2024.
Our aim is to provide an integrated guide to trade data and standards, by document, for the end-to-end supply chain, which will be an indispensable guide for any supply chain player or platform.
Digital Standards Adoption and Implementation
Digital standards adoption is a collective effort. We support pilot projects, champion best practices and nurture a learning community of digital trade practitioners and advocates.
Pilot for innovation
Our innovation pilots, fostered in collaboration with both public and private sectors, provide secure testing grounds for experimentation. These pilots aren't just trials; they're sources of valuable insights, highlighting challenges and avenues for refinement. Working alongside industry experts, users, and solution providers, we ensure that recommended standards are pragmatic, effective, and fit for purpose. Simultaneously, we are empowering organisations with a wealth of proven strategies and real case studies to construct robust business cases and navigate implementation with confidence.
Visit our Resources page [link] to find a collection of pilots and best practices that we and our partners have led.
We mobilise industry champions, early adopters and supply chain leaders to collaborate for mutual benefit. The FIT Alliance, comprising DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA, ICC, and SWIFT, was formed in February 2022 to raise awareness and accelerate adoption of a universal electronic bill of lading (eBL). In Sept 2023, it launched a ‘Declaration of the electronic Bill of Lading’ to secure the support of various stakeholders including Shippers, Corporates, Solution Providers, Banks and Freight Forwarders towards a universal electronic bill of lading (eBL). Find out more about the declaration HERE
There have been significant momentum behind eBL adoption among FIT Alliance member organisations. Through BIMCO’s “25 by 25 Pledge” and DCSA’s “100% eBL by 2030” initiative, some of the world’s largest bulk shippers and 9 of the top 10 ocean carriers have committed to switch their B/Ls to eBLs within two to seven years. 26 of FIATA’s Association members have adopted the eFBL (electronic FIATA bill of lading) and have begun to distribute it to their members.
Technologies and the Trust Supply Chain
The corollary to our vision of digitalising trade – represented by key trade documents and their data elements – by the use of automated data transfer and sharing, is that the processes and standards for the verification, authentication and protection of such data become of paramount importance. While individual supply chains may transact digitally on a single platform according to their own standards, our interest is in technology principles that would facilitate trade digitalisation at scale.
DSI outlined the “Trust supply chain” in its Trust in Trade paper, to complement existing physical, financial and information supply chains and simultaneously improve speed, efficiency, and transparency. The trust supply chain is built around:
Zero trust architecture
backed by cryptographically produced verifiability
for all parties along the supply chain
Interoperability for all data
implying alignment with global standards in all instances.
We engage the public sector to progress legislative reform and build capacity to implement digital trade.
Recognising the Legality of Trade Documents in Digital Form
The Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) drafted by UNCITRAL creates an enabling legal framework for paperless trade. It provides an international framework to align national laws and enable the legal use of electronic transferrable records both domestically and across borders.
As a dynamic catalyst, DSI offers unparalleled support to countries aiming to align with the MLETR framework. From conceptualisation and consultation to comprehensive capacity building, DSI serves as a comprehensive hub, providing an array of invaluable resources, including:
Policy and Regulatory Environment
Legal reforms to enable the digitalisation of trade documents work together with an enabling regulatory environment that supports the digitalisation of trade. Regulatory policies that prioritise trade facilitation, the use of global standards, single windows, and paperless trade work together to enhance the global trade ecosystem.
region-specific economic analyses [hyperlink – ready in Nov]
experience webinars [hyperlink – ready in Nov]
capacity building support [hyperlink – ready in Nov].
Global trade modernisation index [hyperlink – ready in Nov].
Trade facilitation policies streamline customs procedures, cut operational costs, and expedite the movement of goods. When combined with legal reform, these regulations create an enabling environment for digitalisation, enhancing the efficiency of trade operations. They foster trust and transparency among traders, enabling them to confidently embrace digital processes for document exchange and transactions.
Creating an Inclusive Global Trade Environment
Legislative reforms that allow for paperless trade will also increase the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in global trade and boost growth as countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, making trade more efficient as digital information is shared seamlessly across jurisdictions.
DSI provides a platform for sharing lessons learned and propelling nations forward in a nation’s MLETR alignment journey, bringing about a harmonised future for international trade. View our MLETR Toolkit HERE [link].
Facilitating Legal Reform for Digital Trade
At the heart of our legal alignment and regulatory enablement effort lies the Legal Reform Advisory Board, which supports the achievement of an enabling environment for digital trade. A careful limit of 30 members, exclusive of Co-Chair positions, ensures focused and efficient discourse.
Measuring Economies’ Readiness for Digital Trade
In collaboration with The Milken Institute and theAsia Global Institute, DSI has developed the Global Trade Modernisation Index (GTMI), to engage the public and private sector about the building blocks for competitiveness through digital trade. Find out more about the Index and its panel of advisors here.
We work with the public sector to build capacity to implement and benefit from digital trade by promoting and facilitating the adoption of MLETR.
Public Sector Capacity Building
DSI, together with the Asian Development Bank and UNCITRAL, holds in-person and virtual capacity-building sessions on MLETR with targeted public sector officials to help smoothen the adoption process of MLETR.
+ Objectives of these capacity-building sessions:
Awareness-raising, advocacy, and local capacity building
Identify and support local champions in participating jurisdictions
Assist in the preparation of local legislative frameworks for MLETR adoption
Promote international best practices across participating jurisdictions
+ Countries engaged and committed to adopt:
A 21st-century trade ecosystem needs progressive legal foundations. Nations need an enabling legal framework to recognise trade documents in digital form. DSI offers unparalleled support to do that by building capabilities within industries and governments to drive the necessary changes across the supply chains.
Certificate in Digital Trade Strategy
Unlock the potential of your business in the digital age with our Certificate in Digital Trade Strategy (CDTS). Curated by DSI and jointly produced with ICC Academy, this comprehensive self-paced online course offers a holistic journey through the intricacies of digitising supply chain processes, equipping you with the knowledge to drive informed decisions and shape coherent policies for digital trade.
Led by over 20 industry champions, legal experts, innovators, and public policy officials, the CDTS is a unique opportunity to tap into a wealth of expertise. Whether you're steering the digital strategy or spearheading transformation within organizations with global supply chains, this course is tailored to empower your journey.