Our objective is to equip every supply chain participant with some of the most notable and widely used standards to help push trade digitalisation to the next level.
Our toolkit provides an easy-access guide to the many existing standards for trade digitalisation. We hope that building awareness of these will drive convergence across international supply chains.
The issue is not a lack of standards but rather a lack of awareness of those that exist, due to the complex and fragmented nature of the standards landscape. The ICC and WTO aim to solve for this problem.
Global supply chains involve many players and the report maps a range of foundational standards for adoption by all participants in world trade.
ICC and WTO have come together to develop this important toolkit and at GS1 we are pleased to contribute to these efforts. More resilient supply chains can only be achieved if global data standards are applied seamlessly.
This is an important moment in time. Never before have we witnessed government and industry aligning on the important issue of digital supply chains.
Emmanuelle Ganne
Senior Analyst, World Trade Organization
Hannah Nguyen
Director of Digital Ecosystems at the ICC Digital Standards Initiative
Eleanor Wragg
Senior Reporter, Global Trade Review (GTR)
Noelle McElhatton
Editor and Journalist, the Institute of Export and International Trade
Miguel Lopera
President and CEO, GS1
Maria Palazzo
Executive Director and CEO, GS1 Australia


Why is the Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade relevant?

Global trade is the backbone of the world economy, valued at US$ 28 trillion in 2021. Despite its importance, trading across borders remains a notoriously complex process which is highly dependent on paper documents.

While a cross-border transaction involves multiple actors and requires the exchange of 36 documents and 240 copies on average, fewer than one percent of trade documents are fully digitized.

Through the Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade, the International Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Standards Initiative and the World Trade Organization aim to equip every supply chain participant, both public and private, with some of the most notable and widely used standards to help enable a future of secure, trusted and seamless trade connectivity. The toolkit provides a starting point to guide users in their adoption of existing standards in order to reduce costs and complexity. It also provides users with an overview of interoperable digitization frameworks and standards-setting bodies.

What is included in the Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade?

  • Foundational Standards and Identifier Standards for all supply chain actors to reduce translation and enable track and trace technologies.
  • Standards for Commercial Transactions, including those for “Buy,” “Ship” and “Pay” processes.
  • Transport and Logistics Standards for cargo handling, port/airport clearance and real-time shipment tracking.
  • Standards for official control documents.
  • Interoperable digitalization frameworks that support the exchange of electronic trade documents.

How can the Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade be used?

Compiling the work of 16 standard-setting bodies, including the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Trade Organization, the ICC-WTO Standards Toolkit for Cross-Border Paperless Trade provides an overview of existing standards to drive adoption, identify potential gaps and promote interoperability.

Who should adopt paperless trade standards?


to reduce costs, access better financing terms, improve cashflow, and increase efficiency of their business operations.


to improve operational efficiencies and providing real-time connection.


to enable automated risk management, better fiscal evaluation and speedier goods clearance.

To learn more about the ICC Digital Standards Initiative, please contact Hannah Nguyen, Director of Digital Ecosystems at

Download “Standards Toolkit for Cross-border Paperless Trade” full PDF