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World’s first fully digitalised goods shipment sent from Burnley in billion-pound Brexit boost for British businesses

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World’s first fully digitalised goods shipment sent from Burnley in billion-pound Brexit boost for British businesses

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The first ever fully digitalised goods shipment landed in Singapore from Burnley

  • UK replaces old fashioned paper customs documents with digital ones to make it faster, cheaper and easier for businesses to trade
  • Move expected to reduce processing times by up to 75% and could save British businesses over £1 billion
  • Innovation will enable more businesses to take advantage of our post-Brexit trade deals, including the UK-Singapore digital trade deal

The first ever fully digitalised goods shipment yesterday [24 September] landed in Singapore from Burnley after the UK introduced world-leading legislation to make trading cheaper and easier for businesses.

A valve produced by Burnley-based manufacturer Fort Vale set off from Manchester Airport on Thursday, facilitated by UK and Singapore based tech company LogChain, and is set to arrive in Singapore today. For the first time ever, the shipment will be processed entirely digitally, rather than via physical customs documents.

The news comes following the UK’s digital trade agreement with Singapore, which facilitated electronic trade, as well as the introduction of the UK’s ground-breaking Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) which came into force on Wednesday.

The Act made the UK the first G7 country to place electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents. It is estimated the move could generate £1.14 billion for the UK economy over the next decade, supporting the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy.

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.

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.

Digitalising trade makes doing business around the globe faster, cheaper and more secure, lowering the risk of fraud and of paper documents being lost, and reducing processing times by up to 75%.

Collaboration with Singapore to execute this fully digitalised shipment was inspired by the groundbreaking UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, signed in 2022, which was the first digitally focused trade agreement ever agreed by a European nation, and would have been impossible to agree independently had we remained in the EU.

With 80% of customs bills based on English law this reform further enhances the UK’s leadership on digital trade and could kickstart digitalisation globally. The UK continues to work with other countries to promote similar reforms.

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Paul Scully said:

We have made history today, with the simple act of a valve produced in Burnley arriving in Singapore. Following the commencement of the Electronic Trade Documents Act, we’re showing the world that the UK isn’t merely a participant in the digital economy – we are at its forefront.

This transformative step promises a future where international trade is swifter, more affordable, and inclusive for businesses of every size.

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.

Managing Director of BT, Asia Pacific Rodney Kinchington said:

We are proud to leverage our expertise to help usher in the landmark UK Electronic Trade Documents Act. Further, the combined efforts of the various companies in this consortium through LogChain’s platform highlights our joint commitment to enhance standards (for transparency, efficiency, and security) in global supply chains, and support for the transformative journey into the future of logistics.

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