Singapore allows e-documents for cross-border trade

Out-Law News | 04 Feb 2021 | 5:40 am |

Singapore will allow cross-border trade documents with international ports to be digitised.

Singapore’s parliament passed the Electronic Transactions Amendment Bill this Monday 1 February 2021. Under the Bill, Singapore will allow cross-border trade documents to be digitised as long as they meet certain requirements.

It is hoped that this will reduce paperwork and costs for cross-border trade.

Trade and technology expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: ”Singapore is an open, trade-dependent economy. The feeling is that the pandemic offers a chance to implement such innovative changes so that the economy is better placed after the pandemic than it was before it.”

Most maritime trade transactions currently use physical bills of lading that are legal and commercial documents that provide evidence for the contract of carriage, receipt, and ownership of goods. A single transaction used to include hundreds of pages of paperwork.

$4 billion would be saved if half of container shipping lines adopted electronic bills of lading, according to communications and information minister S. Iswaran.

The Bill will also bring Singapore in line with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) standards.

Singapore’s parliament introduced the amendment to the law in January.