ICC and WTO publish supply chain data standards toolkit

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have published a toolkit to help companies identify and adopt standards to digitalise trade processes, including a wide-ranging overview of existing digital standards that can be used to facilitate real-time supply chain collaboration and data exchange.

Drawing on stakeholder consultations through ICC’s Digital Standards Initiative over the past year, the report notes that fewer than 1% of trade documents are currently fully digitised globally – with a typical transaction requiring the exchange of 36 documents and 240 hard copies.

To this end, the toolkit identifies close to 100 available standards, frameworks and initiatives that offer the potential to enable parties in global supply chains to speak the same universal digital language – regardless of the tools used to automate processes – by leveraging a core set of standardised trade-related document and data formats.

The report maps a range of foundational standards, such as UN/LOCODE for transport location and applicable ISO standards for items such as Date and Time, Units of Measure, or Container Identification.

The United Nations Core Component Library (UN/CCL), managed by UN/CEFACT, is also referenced as a foundational standard data model for digitalised processes, while the work of the Digital Container Shipping Association is highlighted, with its standards for electronic bills of lading (eBLs), container track and trace, and just-in-time (JIT) port calls.

“Our toolkit provides an easy-access guide to the many existing standards for trade digitalisation,” said Hannah Nguyen, Director of Digital Ecosystems at the ICC Digital Standards Initiative and co-author of the report.

“We hope that building awareness and understanding of these will drive convergence across international supply chains and thus promote genuine interoperability for paperless trade processes.”

Both ICC and the WTO say they will work to promote use of the new toolkit through their respective networks and will continually update the standards covered to ensure the toolkit remains relevant to all intended users.

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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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