Future International Trade Alliance formed to standardise digitalisation of international trade

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Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) in conjunction with its nine member carriers has announced the formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate to standardise the digitalisation of international trade. The MOU was signed by DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and SWIFT.

Through this initiative, the FIT Alliance will work together to generate awareness about the importance of common and interoperable data standards and common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms. The aim is to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an eBL (electronic Bill of Lading) by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organisations and customers, physical and contractual carriers, and all other stakeholders involved in an international trade transaction.

“The digitalisation of documentation for container shipments will add value for international suppliers who rely on shipping across sectors,” said David Loosley, Secretary General and CEO of BIMCO. “Aligning these standards with the electronic bill of lading standard for the dry and liquid bulk sectors, which we are developing with assistance from DCSA, will help accelerate the digitalisation of trade globally.”

“Interoperability between all actors of the trade and transport industry is the key foundation to enable smooth data exchange and to streamline the end-to-end shipping process for our members,” said Dr. Stephane Graber, FIATA Director General.

“FIATA (the International Federation of Freight Forwarder Associations), as the owner of the only negotiable multimodal transport document endorsed by UNCTAD and ICC, is convinced that an industry-wide effort to establish open-source, interoperable, technology-agnostic standards is essential to make digitalization of international trade a reality. FIATA is committed to facilitating adoption of digital processes for freight-forwarders.”

“ICC represents 45 million companies in over 100 countries, and our mission is to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere,” said John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General. “Adoption of digital standards for bills of lading… will make international shipping dramatically more simple, secure and seamless.”

David Watson, Chief Strategy Officer at SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), said: “We are delighted to be part of this cross-industry collaboration to tackle friction through standardisation and enable interoperability across the ecosystem to allow rich data to flow freely between multiple platforms.”

“From the beginning, DCSA has understood the importance of cross-industry collaboration to achieve the elusive goal of universal eBL,” said Thomas Bagge, DCSA CEO. “We applaud the foresight and leadership of these organisations for joining us in the effort to bring greater transparency, efficiency, reliability and sustainability to the container shipping industry.”

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