International Trade: Paper's Last Stand?
Marina Comninos, General Counsel, Electronic Shipping Solutions Limited, UK
Over 80% of world trade by volume is transported by sea, making maritime transport the backbone of global international trade. The key document associated with international trade is the Bill of Lading (B/L) and yet it remains largely paper based, steeped in history and tradition, making it vastly inefficient both in terms of time and cost.
This paper examines why bills of lading are so vital in the international trade arena and questions why the psyche of the shipping community means they value a handwritten squiggle at the bottom of a piece of paper over an electronic signature which provides data authenticity. Why is international trade the last bastion of paper, when every other global industry has embraced eCommerce?
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