Industry group to push eBL standard and drive trade digitalisation

The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), representing its nine member carriers, has announced the formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BIMCO, FIATA, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and SWIFT, which will see the organisations collaborate to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.

“From the beginning, DCSA has understood the importance of cross-industry collaboration to achieve the elusive goal of universal eBL (electronic Bill of Lading),” said Thomas Bagge, DCSA CEO.

“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.”

The FIT Alliance will work together to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an eBL by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organisations and their customers, physical and contractual carriers, and all other stakeholders involved in an international trade transaction.

FIATA (The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) has already developed its own electronic FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) standard, while BIMCO and ICC previously announced in 2021 that they had begun working on supporting eBL standards in cooperation with DCSA.

“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.

“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.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob 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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