End-to-end digitalisation of trade documentation, starting with eBL, will make international trade more efficient, reliable, secure, sustainable and less susceptible to illegal activity. As a result, it will reduce costs across the board while providing a better experience for shippers who will be able to choose an eBL platform based on service levels and capabilities, while maintaining the ability to exchange electronic documentation with carriers, banks and other parties that may use different platforms. Everyone who participates in international trade, the logistics industry as a whole and the planet will realize the benefits.
The FIT Alliance surveyed 278 industry stakeholders across 66 countries, including banks, freight forwarders, carriers, shippers, agents, consignees. When asked what could be achieved through eBLs and wider trade digitalisation, an overwhelming 86% of survey respondents identified increased speed, while 78% cited process efficiencies, 73% improved customer experience, and the same percentage, cost savings. Nearly nine in ten respondents (86%) said they believe eBLs can/will unlock wider trade digitalisation.
A recent McKinsey study estimates that if eBL achieved 100% adoption across the industry, it could unlock around $18bn in gains for the trade ecosystem through faster document handling and reduced human error (among other improvements) plus $30-40 bn in global trade growth, as digitalisation reduces trade friction.* The same study also suggests that paperless trade enabled by 100% eBL adoption can save 28,000 trees per year, equivalent to around 39 football fields of forest.** In addition, research from the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) suggests that fully digitalising regulatory procedures around trade could save between 32 and 86 kg of CO2 equivalents per end-to-end transaction.
100% adoption of the eBL will also help to fight crime. Many customs administration offices across the globe have already implemented digital customs systems for (advanced) cargo screening. However, the submission of that data requires manual “translation” and manual entering of data into customs systems. This is not only burdensome to the private sector, it leads to a loss of data quality for customs and other border authorities who are reliant on that data for protecting society from terrorism, smuggling, fraud and other criminal behaviour. By using an eBL in true digital form, data quality will improve and the data can be real-time. With 100% eBL adoption, the McKinsey study predicts illegal trade could be reduced by 10-15% globally.
*Source: Source: IHS Markit; Lloyd;s List; European Commission; International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); World Bank; UN; McKinsey Global Institute; interviews with subject matter experts (e.g., in customs); assumptions tested in interviews with carriers
**Source: IHS Markit; Lloyd;s List; European Commission; International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); World Bank; UN; McKinsey Global Institute; interviews with subject matter experts (e.g., in customs); assumptions tested in interviews with carriers