Post-ETDA shipment puts focus on broader range of trade documents


An international consortium says it has executed the first fully digitised shipment of goods following the enactment of UK legislation giving legal recognition to paperless trade documents.

A consignment of valves were shipped from the UK to Singapore using the blockchain platform of supply chain solutions provider LogChain shortly after the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) entered force on September 20.

An electronic air waybill was used to ship the goods by Singapore Airlines and  LogChain says it is the first to use a full suite of digital logistics documents such as the purchase order, driver and vehicle checklists, gate in and out receipts, packing lists, security declarations and product paperwork.

“Placing a bill of lading on the blockchain is a commendable feat, but if the hands-on – on-ground and on-site – staff at the heart of our operations are still tethered to manual methods like clipboards, then the essence of a fully digitalised supply chain eludes us,” says Andrew McKeown, LogChain’s CEO.

“We sought to highlight the logistical element, demonstrating the potential for comprehensive digitalisation across the entire spectrum of the supply chain, transcending mere transactional boundaries,” he tells GTR.

While the focus of global reforms to digitise trade paperwork has been on documents of title such as the bill of lading, McKeown says this shipment seeks to achieve the “broader intent of ensuring end-to-end digitalisation in line with the ‘spirit of the agreement’ of the ETDA”.

“To cite an example, warehouse receipts and ship’s delivery orders, while not traditionally recognised as documents of title under common law, have an operational significance attached to their possession. In practice, holding these documents might sometimes be a prerequisite for a party to assert performance of a duty, or to activate certain statutory effects, as seen under statutes like the Sale of Goods Act 1979,” he says.

The shipment was sent from Burnley in the UK by Fort Vale, a valves and fittings manufacturer, to its own facility in Singapore, meaning no buyer or seller was involved.

“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,” says Graham Blanchard, Fort Vale’s global sales and marketing director.

“Fort Vale sees 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.”

Courtesy –

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