Singapore to develop blockchain-based trade documentation infrastructure

Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information, S Iswaran, has announced plans for the development of a new blockchain-based interoperability framework for the exchange of digital trade documentation and electronic Bills of Lading at the port city, called ‘TradeTrust’.

Speaking during a government Committee of Supply Debate in Singapore this week, Minister Iswaran noted how the project aimed to accelerate the digitalisation of cross-border trade by removing a number of paper-based documentation processes currently in use.

“A common challenge in the trade and logistics sectors is the inefficiency of manual cross-border trade processes. TradeTrust is an initiative to develop a set of standards to help businesses securely exchange digital trade documents,” Minister Iswaran said.

“It will enhance our attractiveness as a business hub and improve the efficiency of our trading and logistics sectors. IMDA (the Info-communications Media Development Authority) and other government agencies are now working with industry partners to conduct proof-of-concept trials and will provide more details later.”

According to the Ministry, TradeTrust will comprise a set of governance and legal frameworks, standards and a future-ready digital infrastructure, to facilitate the interoperability of electronic trade documents exchanged between different digital ecosystems.

This will be supported by the use of distributed ledger technologies, more commonly known as ‘blockchain’, to provide participants with proof of authenticity and provenance for the digital documents used.

The technical infrastructure will be hosted on Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP), a national trade information management system launch in September 2018, as a value-added service to assist companies in managing the exchange of electronic trade documents.

Singapore’s IMDA (part of the Ministry for Communications and Information) will partner with the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) to lead development of the electronic Bills of Lading system, with support from Singapore Customs and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), in accordance with a January 2019 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the four parties in support of the initiative.

IMDA will also shortly issue a Request for Proposal to invite the wider industry to submit proposals for the technical implementation of the TradeTrust infrastructure, the Ministry said.

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About the Author

Rob O'Dwyer
Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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