Singapore has launched an e-trade platform, Global eTrade Services (GeTS), to ease the cross-border trade process, it was announced this week.

The GeTS platform helps to simplify the “cumbersome” document processing that traders and governments have to deal with, and speed up regulations and compliance.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that for every 1% reduction in global trade costs, global income could go up by US$40 billion.

Companies will be able to clear customs more quickly and efficiently, which will translate into time and cost savings, said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the launch of the platform. The platform will cut time for trade documents processing by 60%, according to him.

The platform will also cut out the manual steps for ensuring that traders meet customs requirements in both the exporting and importing countries.

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Take the example of a Singapore company which owns a subsidiary in Thailand. “In Singapore, you will have to put together trade data and invoices, and formulate an export declaration, among other documents. A similar set of data needs to be received in Thailand as well,” Mr Chong Kok Keong, CEO of GeTS, told GovInsider. To prepare this set of documents, people in each country would have to communicate through emails and texts or over the phone, which can be time-consuming.

Furthermore, customs requirements in Singapore and Thailand may vary, so documents will need to be ‘transformed’: converting currencies and units of measurement from one form to another, for example, Chong said.

“A lot of ‘transformation’ has to be done manually, which takes time and is also subject to human error,” Chong explained. “The GeTS platform will ‘transform’ your documents for you.”

The platform also increases Singapore’s connectivity to traders around the world. Currently, the platform is available in Indonesia, Thailand and most countries in Asia, and in the US and Canada, according to Chong.

Image from GeTS