The British government has praised a new trade agreement between the UK and Singapore that has enabled what it says is the world's first fully digitalized goods shipment.
This week, a valve produced by Burnley-based manufacturer Fort Vale took off for Singapore in a trade that was processed entirely digitally, without the need for any physical customs documentation.
According to the Department for Business and Trade, this has been made possible due to the UK's digital trade agreement with Singapore, which facilitates electronic trade, as well as the introduction of a new Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) which came into force in the UK last week.
Minister for international trade Nigel Huddleston welcomed the "landmark moment", which he said will make it "quicker, cheaper and easier for firms to do business around the world".
The government noted that the ETDA makes the UK the first G7 country to give electronic trade documents the same legal status as paper-based data. Benefits of this include making international business faster, cheaper and more secure.
As well as reducing the risk of fraud and of paper documents being lost, this technology is able to cut processing times by up to 75 percent and is estimated to generate up to £1.14 billion for the UK economy over the next decade.
The government also stated the milestone is an example of a Brexit benefit, as it argued the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, which was signed in 2022 and made the digitalized trade possible, would not have been achievable had the UK remained in the EU.
Minister for tech and the digital economy Paul Scully added: "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."