In October 2019, IMDA (Infocomm Media and Development Authority) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) co-hosted a 2-day workshop for the delegates from Blocklab, Port of Rotterdam’s (PoR) blockchain centre to work together on the requirements of title transfer capability in relation to eBLs for cross-border trade transactions.
The ambition is to digitize this very first step in the international trade and logistics transaction and to make it interoperable with Electronic Bills of Lading (eBL). The alignment achieved through an in-depth discussion at the workshop is important for developing title transfer capability through #TradeTrust software components, which are open-source. Following this workshop, a successful Proof of Concept (PoC) was executed on 31 Mar 2020 to trial the transfer of title for eBLs based on the #TradeTrust framework. Simulated transactions carried out in the PoC were for the transfer of title from a shipper to a consignee for shipments from Rotterdam to Singapore and vice versa. This is an important first step in making the transition from paper to digital a reality. Apart from digitalisation of logistics, the development saves administration and paperwork for both shipper and consignee.
The next step will be the practical use of the framework in shadow shipments on the trade lane Singapore to Rotterdam and vice versa. As part of this next phase, the interoperability of TradeTrust with other blockchain platforms will be demonstrated by means of the DELIVER platform, that is jointly being developed by ABN-AMRO, Samsung SDS and Port of Rotterdam. The end state of TradeTrust envisions a truly paperless, legally binding negotiable bill-of-lading, potentially ending the wasteful “machine-to paper-to machine” processes that have prevented true automation of international trade.
The transfer capability shall be compliant to the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), which stipulates the conditions that electronic trade documents need to fulfil in order to be the functional equivalent of the paper based ones. #TradeTrust’s marked difference from the conventional platforms is the use of an open framework based on these internationally accepted standards. An integral part of the project is the involvement of relevant authorities on both sides to facilitate the legal adoption. In the Netherlands, the project is actively supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Digitization as opportunity
Port of Rotterdam Authority sees digitization as an opportunity to make the port of Rotterdam even safer, faster, more efficient and sustainable and therefore actively reaches out to carriers, shippers, banks and logistics service providers in the Netherlands and beyond, to work with them on setting an open standard for transfer of title. Co-operation of international trade partners and authority will bring this project from Proof of Concept to reality.