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Japanese government pushes blockchain consortium for ASEAN trade

NYK container ship

According to Japan’s Kyodo News, the Japanese government is promoting blockchain technology to enable trade digitization in the ASEAN, where the country is currently the rotating leader. The impetus is intended to reduce reliance on China, given the ongoing pandemic and U.S. – China trade tensions. Specifically, it will involve an NTT Data solution with an 18 member consortium of Japan’s largest companies.

Last week Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) published an ASEAN – Japan Economic Reslience Action Plan, which referenced digitizing trade several times. However, there was no mention of blockchain or NTT Data’s consortium TradeWaltz.

A test of TradeWaltz is planned in Vietnam this year. The consortium was formed in 2017 and the solution was trialed in Thailand last year. Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum, the ICC, Singapore government and many of TradeWaltz’s members entered into an agreement to digitalize trade.

The NTT Data solution aims to incorporate the importer and exporter, the shipping companies and logistics firms, banks for trade finance, insurers as well as customs.

Electronic bills of lading, which represent title to the goods, are particularly important at the moment because paper versions are usually mailed separately to the goods, which is problematic in times of lockdown. But blockchain also reduces the delay, the risk of fraud and tampering.

Other major shipping and logistics initiatives included IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens, where TradeWaltz member ONE is a participant, and the CargoSmart led Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN).

The members of the TradeWaltz consortium are:

  • Trading conglomerates: Itochu Corporation, Kanematsu Corporation, Marubeni, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui & Co, Sojitz Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation, Toyota Tsusho Corporation
  • Shipping and logistics: K Line, NYK Line, ONE, Nippon Express
  • Banking: Mizuho Bank, MUFG Bank, SMBC
  • Insurance: Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Sompo Japan Insurance, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance

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