Shipping Ministry requests recognition for electronic trade documents

electronic trade documents

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The shipping ministry has requested the validation of electronic trade documents, citing the current hardships of the sector in manual trade documentation.

Amid the situations of pandemic and lockdown, the shipping ministry has come up with a less risky and more effective solution for handling EXIM cargo disruptions. It has urged the commerce ministry to act as an intermediary and issue advisory to departments, including Indian Banks Association, and customs for adopting electronic trade documents.

Shipping secretary elucidates need of electronic documentation

In a recent letter to the Commerce Secretary, Anup Wadhawan, Gopal Krishna, the Shipping Secretary, has mentioned the ongoing challenges of trade documentation and their effects on the release of containers and cargo. 

As per him, the enactment of lockdown, and the requirement of social distancing have disabled various service providers like courier agencies, obturating the issuance, dispatch, and delivery of physical trade documents.  

He also emphasized on the average time wasted in a manual documentation process and the risk of COVID – 19 infections associated with it. According to him, it costs almost 11.5 hours to execute all the paper-based formalities like the invoice, payment, and delivery orders manually.

Expected outcomes from the electronic documentation process 

Krishna expects this step to rescue trade from pandemic effects, and ease humanitarian challenges and economic crisis. He also envisions it as a support to endeavors of the Commerce and Shipping Ministries for ensuring an untroubled Import Export trade and unhindered release of import cargo and containers at various Indian ports.

In the letter, the shipping secretary has justified his request illustrating the implementation of the Port Community System (PCS) by the Indian Ports Association (IPA). Under the backing of the Ministry of Shipping, the association launched PCS for digitizing major parts in trade-related activities, including electronic invoice, electronic payment, and electronic delivery order.

While PCS did not include the electronic Bill of Lading (eBL), trade bodies under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Logistic Association (FILA) have encouraged this initiative of IPA by identifying eBL solution providers like CargoX.

With the claim of exploring various eBL solution providers like Wave, Tradelens, Bolero, etc., the Shipping Ministry has appealed to the Ministry of Commerce to consider CargoX for electronic trade documentation.

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