Electronic trade documentation has been around since the 1990s but gained serious momentum in the last few years and especially during/after the pandemic. However, despite millions of dollars spent in developing processes and technologies, several technological advancements, and solid proof of concepts, widespread adoption still seems elusive.
Doubts about digitalization’s ability, lack of knowledge about its workings, interoperability, lack of integration, legislative, regulatory, and compliance-related issues, and lack of guidance are some of the reasons for the lack of widespread adoption of electronic trade document transfer.
These reasons were identified in a survey of over 400 supply chain professionals done by CargoX. Despite the investment of millions of dollars leading to several advancements in technology and the availability of solid proof of concepts, widespread adoption still seems elusive.
A webinar featuring an expert panel of Emmanuelle Ganne – Senior Analyst, Economic Research Department at WTO, Joel Schrevens – Director, China Systems, Global Trade Solutions, and Peter Kern – Chief Business Officer at CargoX, moderated by John Monarch – Supply Chain Expert at UN/CEFACT sought to unpack the results of the survey.
The discussion points and outcomes of this well-attended webinar are now available to view. The expert panel identified several areas where business stakeholders could improve and increase collaboration and cooperation, and also identified certain approaches that can expedite the adoption of electronic trade document transfer.
Click here or the below image, to view the webinar and learn more about the solutions identified by the panel to overcoming barriers to the adoption of electronic trade document transfer.
Wow, over 400 supply chain professionals! So the majority of these professionals, and I’m guessing here, employed by larger organisations that are abreast of developments, are not interested in digitisation.
What about the traders? The great majority of traders are micro/small/medium enterprises who don’t have the equipment, the staff, the finance and the interest in replacing whatever software they are using (often MS Word and Excel) with new, specialised software that involves a steep learning curve for management and staff, temporarily duplicating their existing systems, possibly new equipment, and staff being taken from their daily tasks to train in the new systems.
It is largely just BS that the pandemic has generated interest in digitisation apart maybe in the IT industry. Traders use pdf files sent by email for just about every document, and move from BLs to pdf sea waybills where there is a level of confidence between seller and buyer.
What I watched in this discussion was software people with fingers in the pie, lamenting that the majority of international trade doesn’t want their pie. They lament that there are different “silos” developing systems as if that is a bad thing. What in my opinion is bad, extremely bad, is one centralised silo which controls all the trade software. Imagine how the world would be affected if that silo’s owner went rogue, whether a mega software company (you know who I’m thinking of) or a vengeful country (you know the ones I’m thinking of).
The latest iteration of snake oil salesmen!