First ever fully digitalised goods shipment reaches Singapore, from Burnley

Valve produced by Burnley-based Fort Vale and flown out of Manchester Airport is first ever shipment processed entirely digitally, thanks to UK and Singapore-based tech company LogChain. 

This kind of digital processing is possible because of two things. The UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement signed in 2022 facilitates electronic trade; it was the first digitally focused trade agreement ever agreed by a European country.

Singapore Lion fountain

Lion fountain in Singapore, photo by Joshua Ang

In addition, the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) also came into force as of last Wednesday, placing electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents. The UK is the first G7 country to do this, and the government estimate the move could generate £1.14bn for the UK economy over the next decade, reducing the processing times of paper documentation by up to 75%. 

The UK continues to work with other countries to promote similar reforms in the way we can do business.  

Nigel Huddleston, Minister for International Trade, says: ‘Digitalised trade will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for firms to do business around the world, saving them significant sums of money. In a world where everyone pays for things digitally, it’s high time we tear up the pointless paperwork and get with the 21st century. 

‘This is a landmark moment for the future of international trade and I am delighted the UK is leading the way in using technology to make things easier for our companies.’ 

Paul Scully,  Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, adds: ‘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. 

‘This transformative step promises a future where international trade is swifter, more affordable, and inclusive for businesses of every size.’ 

Graham Blanchard, Global Sales and Marketing Director of Fort Vale, says: ‘Fort Vale are extremely enthusiastic and excited by the prospect of successful digital trade transactions. As an organisation Fort Vale exports around 90% of its products worldwide. A significant number of our key accounts are based in Singapore and as such, the opportunity to be part of this historic moment was something not to miss.  

‘Fort Vale see the benefits of security, efficiency, cost savings and reduced risk of delays as real positives not only for our organisation, but as a contribution to frictionless trade between the UK and Singapore as a whole.’ 

Rodney Kinchington, Managing Director of BT, Asia Pacific, adds: ‘We are proud to leverage our expertise to help usher in the landmark UK Electronic Trade Documents Act. Further, the combined efforts of the various companies in this consortium through LogChain’s platform highlights our joint commitment to enhance standards (for transparency, efficiency, and security) in global supply chains, and support for the transformative journey into the future of logistics.’

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