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The data format on which the Tradeshift platform is based has been approved for public procurement by the European Commission.

The decision, announced on October 31, 2014, allows all EU member nations to use the Universal Business Language (UBL) XML format for government purchasing.

“The European Commission’s decision is a major step in right direction. Tradeshift has advocated for the wide adoption of UBL since day-one. And not simply because it is at the core of our API but because it opens the floodgates for better connectivity and transparency between government organizations and the millions of businesses that supply them with goods and services. This decision is in the best interest of the public sector, small business and the European economy as a whole,” said Tradeshift CEO, Christian Lanng.

A product of OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, UBL was developed in a transparent standards-setting process over a period of 13 years by hundreds of leading business experts. OASIS is the same organization that created ODF, the Open Document Format (ISO/IEC 26300), a widely used International Standard for word processing.

As a result of the EC decision, Tradeshift’s users can expect easy data integration with regulatory and government procurement agencies as the standard becomes widely deployed.  And Tradeshift — a sponsor of the UBL effort and the first company to base a commercial cloud-based offering upon the format — now leaps to a commanding first-mover lead in providing solutions based on UBL, with the standard itself providing a rich array of predefined, easily convertible data structures designed to give adopters such as Tradeshift easy expansion from the base invoicing use case into every modality of modern business practice, including electronic freight management of the goods themselves.

Beginning with the 2005 adoption of UBL for public sector invoicing in Sweden and Denmark, UBL has already become through its CEN BII localization the foundation for a number of successful European public procurement frameworks, including EHF (Norway), Svefaktura (Sweden), ePrior (European Commission DIGIT), and PEPPOL, a growing pan-European procurement infrastructure whose participants currently include government agencies from Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Other implementations for public sector eInvoicing include E-Fatura (Turkey), Factura Electronica (Peru), and SimplerInvoicing (the Netherlands). UBL has also become foundational to a number of efforts in the transport domain, including eFreight (European Commission – DG MOVE), DTTN (Port of Hong Kong), TradeNet (Port of Singapore), and Electronic Freight Management (US Department of Transportation). With its approval by the European Commission, government agencies throughout Europe can now specify UBL in their tenders for software and services.

In its latest version (2.1), UBL provides 65 standard document types (Invoice, Purchase Order, Waybill, etc.) based on a common library of several thousand reusable standard data types (price, quantity, address, etc.) covering all aspects of ordinary B2B business and shipping processes and engineered to optimize conversion from one electronic document type to another (for example, transforming a purchase order into its corresponding shipping notice and invoice).

UBL is the starting point of the Tradeshift API, the extensibility and integration interface to the Tradeshift platform. This means that every piece of data that is exchanged is based on a standards-based semantics, open to any customer, integrator, app developer to access directly in order to integrate processes, support workflow decisions, archive, involve third parties, analyze, or whatever use case may be relevant.