Singapore government passes bill backing electronic Bills of Lading

The Government of Singapore has passed a new bill to amend its existing Electronic Transactions Act (ETA), facilitating the wider use of electronic transactions by consumers and businesses while also supporting the use of electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs) as legally equivalent to paper-based Bills of Lading.

The Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament amended the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) and made related amendments to the Bills of Lading Act and the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act.

To facilitate electronic transactions in Singapore, the Ministry of Communications & Information (MCI) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have amended the ETA to adopt the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), with modifications for Singapore law.

The process also extended the ETA to apply to a wider range of transferable documents or instruments, such as Bills of Lading.

“The digital economy is key to the next phase of Singapore’s growth, and our efforts to emerge stronger from the pandemic,” said S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information.

“Our strategies include enhancing our digital infrastructure and frameworks, strengthening our citizens’ and businesses’ digital capabilities, and collaboration with international partners. This Bill will ensure that our legal and regulatory infrastructure keeps pace with international trade law and the latest technological developments so that Singapore remains globally competitive.”

Singapore has already been a vocal supporter of the adoption of eBLs and has conducted technical trials using the blockchain-based TradeTrust digital network for exchange of cross-border trade documentation.

The port city is amongst the first major trading hubs to officially adopt the UNCITRAL MELTR (with modifications), a move which it hopes will lead to better alignment with trading partners in the future.

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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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