The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has joined forces with the Singapore government and a consortium of banks and corporates to create a framework for digital trade.

TradeTrust is a digital utility that comprises a set of globally-accepted standards and frameworks that aims to simplify cross-border trade by enabling interoperability across different trade platforms and formats. Its aim is to work with different blockchain technologies, such as IBM’s Hyperledger and R3’s Corda, by connecting them to a common public blockchain

This strategic initiative is led by the ICC along with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Maritime Port Authority (MPA), and partner agency Enterprise Singapore, and counts among its participants DBS Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, Standard Chartered, SMBC, payments provider MasterCard, and corporates ranging from Tokio Marine to Trafigura, April Group, Marubeni Corporation, Mitsubishi, Mitsui & Co, Noble, NTT Data, PSA International, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa and Sumitomo.

One of the first platforms built on the TradeTrust framework is ICC TradeFlow, a blockchain platform designed to streamline trade processes for business. Created in partnership with DBS Bank, Trafigura and Enterprise Singapore and powered by blockchain provider Perlin’s technology, TradeFlow enables businesses to visually map out trade flows, issue instructions to partners, and analyse trade actions in real time. On TradeFlow, businesses can upload, verify and modify trade documents, as well as act upon instructions from trading partners. Other components of the platform include a ‘trade clock’ to keep progress of a particular transaction, as well as anti-fraud protections for shipping and documentation.

The utility is now open for technology companies and platform providers to develop applications, with several partners now seeking to add their current platforms to the framework. One such example is April Group, a maker of pulp and paper products, whose president, Praveen Singhavi, says: “Digital technology has the potential to significantly enhance our existing sustainability commitments by facilitating traceability across value and supply chains. April has worked with our sister company, Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) to incorporate our fibre data into a blockchain solution called ‘Follow Our Fibre’. The solution assures customers in the textile and fashion industry that APR’s viscose products come from responsibly managed and certified renewable plantations and mills.”

Yo Honma, CEO of Japanese tech firm NTT Data, adds: “NTT Data and its Japan trade consortium members are working on the digitalisation of the trade business through the TradeWaltz platform. TradeWaltz is built through discussions with cross-industry consortium companies, such as cargo owners, banks, insurance and logistics companies, who share a mutual interest in paperless international trade. In order to realise 100% digital trading, interoperability between platforms is essential. NTT Data and the trade consortium members in Japan will strengthen our relationships with similar initiatives led by other institutions to realise paperless international trade.”

This latest development comes after the ICC took over the leadership of the Universal Trade Network (UTN) – which it renamed as the Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) – as part of efforts to develop standards and protocols to enable the next digital era in trade. “The DSI aims at leading efforts to digitalise trade, notably by the creation of open trade and technology standards to promote interoperability among the numerous blockchain networks and technology platforms that have entered the trade finance space over the past two years,” an ICC spokesperson tells GTR, adding that TradeTrust is an example of an interoperable solution aligned with the central objective of the DSI – to create a network-of-networks, allowing for interoperability between networks run on rival blockchain frameworks, as well as non-blockchain networks.