Fort Vale play major part in World’s first digitalised shipment


UK replaces old fashioned paper customs documents with digital ones to make it faster, cheaper and easier for businesses to trade


Move expected to reduce processing times by up to 75% and could save British businesses over £1 billion


Innovation will enable more businesses to take advantage of our post-Brexit trade deals, including the UK-Singapore digital trade deal



The first ever fully digitalised goods shipment landed in Singapore from Burnley yesterday (24 September) after the UK introduced world-leading legislation to make trading cheaper and easier for businesses.


A footvalve produced by Burnley-based manufacturer Fort Vale set off from Manchester Airport on Thursday, facilitated by UK and Singapore based tech company LogChain. For the first time ever, the shipment will be processed entirely digitally, rather than via physical customs documents.


The news comes following the UK’s digital trade agreement with Singapore, which facilitated electronic trade, as well as the introduction of the UK’s ground-breaking Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) which came into force on Wednesday.


The Act made the UK the first G7 country to place electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents. It is estimated the move could generate £1.14 billion for the UK economy over the next decade, supporting the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy.


Global Sales and Marketing Director of Fort Vale Graham Blanchard said: ‘Fort Vale are extremely enthusiastic and excited by the prospect of successful digital trade transactions. As an organisation Fort Vale exports around 90% of its products worldwide. A significant number of our key accounts are based in Singapore and as such, the opportunity to be part of this historic moment was something not to miss.


Fort Vale see the benefits of security, efficiency, cost savings and reduced risk of delays as real positives not only for our organisation, but as a contribution to frictionless trade between the UK and Singapore as a whole.’


Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston said: ‘This is a landmark moment for the future of international trade and I am delighted the UK is leading the way in using technology to make things easier for our companies.’


Note to editors:


The UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act marks a pioneering step in the realm of trade documentation. By positioning electronic trade documents on equal legal standing as their paper equivalents, the Act fosters flexibility without enforcing an obligatory switch. Designed as permissive legislation, its primary objective is to eliminate hindrances as opposed to introducing new constraints.


Such a transformative approach offers the potential to revolutionize global trade in several impactful ways:


Efficiency: Transitioning to electronic documents, supported by the ETD Bill, slashes time overheads associated with the manual handling of paper documents. This augments operational efficiency for logistics stakeholders.


Cost Savings: Traditional methods of managing, archiving, and dispatching paper documents rack up expenses. Embracing electronic document practices presents substantial fiscal advantages.


Reduced Risk of Delays: Bottlenecks in logistics, often paper document-linked, can escalate costs due to demurrage and detention. E-documents diminish these delays, thus curtailing related expenditures.


Enhanced Security: With a digital approach, there’s a marked reduction in vulnerabilities such as loss, theft, or forgery that are associated with paper documents, fortifying transactional security and curbing fraud chances.


Environmental Benefits: The move towards electronic documentation lessens the dependence on paper, advancing the cause of environmental sustainability.