IMDA conducts live electronic transferable record (ETR) cross-border trade

Photo by panumas nikhomkhai

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) partnered industry players and successfully executed a live shipment from Singapore to Thailand during Q1 2023.

This fully paperless, live cross-border trade involved the use of an ETR, that is functionally equivalent to a paper Bill of Lading (BL) using Singapore’s TradeTrust framework.

Pioneered by IMDA, TradeTrust was designed to address the challenges of paper-based cross-border trades, leveraging international standards and frameworks, utilising blockchain-powered technology to enable digitalisation of transferable documents into ETR.

IMDA’s TradeTrust framework harmonises the legal recognition of digital documentations between various jurisdictions which has adopted the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR).

The world’s first ETR cross-border trade involved ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. as the shipper, Bunkerchain as the TradeTrust-enabled digital platform provider and VLK as the vessel owner who is supported by their Protection & Indemnity (P&I) Club. Bunkerchain provided a digital solution that supported the key logistics documentation processes for the cross-border liquid chemical trade involving multiple parties such as a surveyor and custom broker.

The use of TradeTrust has enabled the digitalisation of the issuance, ownership title transfer and surrender of the ETR as an electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) between the different stakeholders across different systems, that is compliant to the UNCITRAL MLETR requirements.

Digitalising the future of global trade

The introduction of eBLs has enabled greater efficiency by streamlining and automating existing processes. The benefits include shorter waiting times and reduced costs. This pilot builds on cooperation with industry partners like ExxonMobil to encourage the use of ETRs and facilitate cross-border trade.

Using the TradeTrust framework, ETRs can be issued, transferred, and surrendered between multiple stakeholders in a trusted manner, across different digital platforms, which is necessary in the context of cross-border trade.

“Since 2019, Singapore has looked to reshape, reimagine, and redefine the way the world trades. International trade ecosystem is heavily reliant on physical paper documents and signatures for validation,” said Mr Loh Sin Yong, Director, TradeTrust, IMDA.

“This live transaction for consignment of liquid chemical from Singapore to Thailand, leverages on the TradeTrust framework to create an eBL that uses UNCITRAL’s MLETR compliant statutory law framework. More importantly, we are excited to have demonstrated that the industry can potentially use eBL even if there was no basis of a contractual legal framework. We believe this will illuminate wider adoption of eBL in cross-border trade.”

“We welcome frameworks like TradeTrust as an important part of our journey towards digitalization.,” said Mr Low Say Lim, Asia Pacific Liquids Logistics & Distribution Manager, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific.

“Such frameworks increase efficiency and cost savings while maintaining high standards and trust, and we hope that this successful trial will lead to increased interest from industry to adopt similar standards.”