INTERVIEW

FIT Alliance: can cross-sector trade become easier?

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Organisations from the transport sector have signed a memorandum of understanding for the Future International Trade Alliance (FIT Alliance). It’s an agreement regarding digitalised and standardised trade processes by using electronic bills of lading. “The FIT Alliance is related to the digitalisation of international trade in general, including container and bulk shipping, explained Ole Hagen, Vice President at FIATA, mentioning that rail freight could also benefit from this development.

The FIT Alliance was signed by transport organisations including FIATA, DCSA, SWIFT, BIMCO and ICC. Their shared objective is to “collaborate on the development and adoption of relevant standards to facilitate the use of electronic bills of lading, generate awareness about the importance of common and interoperable data standards and common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms”.

What does it mean?

“The FIT Alliance is focusing on facilitating the acceptance of electronic Bills of Lading within the industry and specifically by regulators, banks and insurers,” underlines Hagen. “Every organisation in the Alliance is committed to promoting standardised legislation, which enables industry stakeholders to conduct digital transactions securely and seamlessly; this is a common objective which all are willing to implement,” he adds.

In practice, this will mean that organisations will push towards using a standard electronic bill of lading in transactions, covering all transport sectors and modes, making it thus easier for carriers and shippers to transport their products through different sectors.

“FIATA has already successfully achieved the release of its eFBL standard. However, the process of sending an electronic bill of lading from one platform to another implies many more complex challenges,” underlines Hagen meaning that the Alliance’s goals will take time and patience to realise.

What is there for rail?

As for rail freight transport, the FIT Alliance could prove quite beneficial. The agreement focuses on the digitalisation of multimodal and intermodal transport, of which rail freight is an integral part. As a result, rail freight will gain from improving conditions for the multimodal and intermodal sectors. “FIATA is also pursuing collaboration with UNCITRAL at an international level to make sure we have a solid legal framework to support this,” says Hagen.

On top of that, a unified electronic bill of lading could also bring good news for the New Silk Road. “It could indirectly contribute to the transport of dangerous goods along the New Silk Road by facilitating the exchange of electronic transport documents within the industry worldwide,” concludes Hagen.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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