DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA, ICC and SWIFT form alliance to boost digitalisation in international trade

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The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a neutral, non-profit group established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards, has announced the formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance involving itself and other major logistics and trade organisations including BIMCO, FIATA, the ICC and SWIFT. The agreement concerns a commitment to collaborating to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.

DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA, ICC and SWIFT form alliance to boost digitalisation in international trade
Photo: Pavel Iovik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a statement, the FIT Alliance said it would work towards generating 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 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, one of the largest of the international shipping associations representing shipowners. “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.”

Also commenting on agreement was Dr. Stephane Graber, Director General of the FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations. She stressed the need an industry-wide effort to push forward the digitalisation of trade.

“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. FIATA, 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.”

Dr Graber also emphasised FIATA’s commitment to developing the electronic bill of lading standards:

“FIATA is committed to facilitating adoption of digital processes for freight-forwarders. We took the lead by developing the electronic FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) standard, which will further the acceptance of electronic documents by all stakeholders involved in a bill of lading (B/L) transaction. By simplifying their day-to-day business, our members will be able to focus on building truly differentiated offerings for their customers on top of future-proof digital foundations.”

John W.H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the ICC, the International Chamber of Commerce, was another to provide comment.  He too emphasised the importance of digital standards for bills of lading:

“ICC represents 45 million companies in over 100 countries, and our mission is to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere. Living up to that means finding ways to make international trade far less complex than it currently is. Through the FIT Alliance, we are collaborating with key industry players to create and accelerate the adoption of digital standards for bills of lading that will make international shipping dramatically more simple, secure and seamless. This will drive a sea change in companies’ productivity and business models, the two critical ingredients to help businesses build back better, and unleash benefits at an ecosystem level which have never before been achieved.”

Another signatory of the agreement was SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services. It’s Chief Strategy Officer at SWIFT, David Watson, said:

“SWIFT is the way the world moves value, connecting 11,500 institutions in more than 200 countries and facilitating over $2 trillion in global trade every year. We have significantly accelerated cross-border flows in recent years and are innovating at scale to make them instant. To that end, 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.”

Finally, Thomas Bagge, CEO of the DCSA, described the agreement as an exciting milestone in the journey towards standardising all container shipping documentation:

“From the beginning, DCSA has understood the importance of cross-industry collaboration to achieve the elusive goal of universal eBL. The FIT Alliance is one exciting result of our ongoing effort to drive that collaboration. Container ships carry 90% of the world’s goods. As such, an incredibly diverse set of stakeholders touches the B/L transaction—from government regulators, to insurers, to shippers from every industry. To achieve widespread use of eBL, they must all be on board with adopting digital B/L standards. The agreement between DCSA and these diverse industry associations is an exciting milestone in our journey towards standardising all container shipping documentation through our eDocumentation initiative. 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.”

Photo: Pavel Iovik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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