ICC and WTO encouraging trade to go digital

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Businesses may find it easier to go digital with a new resource from two leading trade organizations.

A new downloadable resource has been produced with the aim of encouraging businesses around the world to digitalize their trade processes through better understanding of the available standards. 

The toolkit has been produced as a joint project between the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as part of the former’s ongoing Digital Standards Initiative. 

Problems with going digital 

Research from the two organizations found that one of the biggest barriers to going paperless is a widespread lack of awareness about existing standards for digital trade. Indeed, they suggested more companies would be willing to go digital if they were aware of what standards they needed to adhere to. 

The WTO in particular criticized the “complex and fragmented nature” of the standards landscape and said trading across borders has become a complicated process dependent on paper documents as a result. 

This is likely to be significantly hindering the movement of data across the world’s various supply chains and harming efficiency for businesses, particularly smaller ones. 

Currently, the ICC and WTO said, fewer than one per cent of all trade documents are digitized. Furthermore, the typical transaction requires a staggering 36 documents and 240 hard copies to be exchanged, demonstrating the lack of efficiency worldwide. 

Enter a new toolkit 

Now, the ICC and WTO have launched their new Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade, which they say offers a comprehensive overview of existing digital trade standards that can be used to facilitate real-time supply chain collaboration and data exchange. 

The document identifies nearly 100 available standards, frameworks and initiatives, including country codes and Legal Entity Identifiers, the latter of which have previously been highlighted by the OECD as being potentially transformative for trade. 

Also included are the ISO 14533 series for electronic signatures and the ISO 20022 standard that describes a common platform for the development of financial messages, as well as the e-business XML and the UN Units of Measure for quantifying inventory items. 

Within the document, businesses should find all the identifier standards necessary for naming products, trade documents and everything else they need in supply chain data exchanges. 

A more efficient future 

The ICC and WTO said they hope this will facilitate a move to a future that offers secure and seamless connectivity throughout supply chains, ensuring all parties speak the same language no matter what tools they are using. 

In an interview with Global Trade Review, the two organizations said having globally accepted and standardized identifiers could offer significant advantages for trade partners, including the ability to track and trace objects throughout their life cycles. 

Hannah Nguyen, a co-author of the document from the ICC, commented: “We hope that building awareness and understanding will drive convergence across international supply chains and thus promote genuine interoperability for paperless trade processes.” 

The ICC and the WTO will now promote the new toolkit around the world and regularly update the standards to ensure they remain relevant. 

Going digital to facilitate trade 

At a time when we do almost everything online, turning trade digital would seem like a logical process. Indeed, it is something many organizations have been pushing for for some time. 

The OECD has previously pointed out that digital transformation has lowered the costs of engaging in international trade, facilitated the coordination of global value chains and connected businesses worldwide. 

It also highlighted the potential for smaller firms to overcome barriers to growth through the use of innovative digital tools. 

If you’re part of a business of any size that trades internationally and you want to look into the potential advantages of digitization, then you might want to check out the range of user-friendly web-based software solutions offered by MIC. 

We provide a number of tools that can be deployed in a modular manner to drive the efficient management and operation of customs processes while ensuring compliance with legal requirements worldwide. 

Our data analytics tool could also help to improve decision-making by identifying supply chain trends across global customs processes. 

To find out more about how we could help you go digital, feel free to get in touch with one of our representatives today.