A Government minister has heaped praise on Bradford Chamber of Commerce for its work in revolutionising export documentation.

Trade minister Ian Pearson made his comments after being given a demonstration of how documents can be processed in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

Tim Bailey, the chamber's international manager who has spearheaded the e-Cert Express programme, showed how paperwork could be dealt with in under two minutes compared to four days previously.

Mr Bailey said Bradford had taken the lead role in developing the system and was advising other British chambers as well as those in Holland and Ireland how to adopt the system.

Working alongside the chambers in York and Leeds he said there were now 150 users in Yorkshire.

"We've got acceptance for it in 40 international markets including difficult ones like China and the Middle East," he said. "We've only had one instance when a document was queried and we managed to overcome it. It's very simple and reliable. Some local companies have concluded their contracts with courier companies because they no longer need bikers for documents. We now want to create a whole suite of export documents along these lines."

He said that the e-Cert programme was being delivered by training up to 350 staff a year at regular workshops.

And he told Mr Pearson that Yorkshire chambers had also co-operated in producing a regional training directory.

"It's a really excellent initiative because it's so much more efficient," said Mr Pearson.

"Anything that speeds up export documentation has to be welcomed by business. In a fast moving world we need to move our exports rapidly and speeding up the process is really important."

Earlier Mr Pearson urged West Yorkshire business leaders to rise to the challenge of opportunities offered by the growing Chinese market.

"China and Britain share an enormous potential for trade, investment and joint ventures," he said. "Our companies need to understand China better. We have seized the initiative and our companies need to go out and win more business in this rapidly expanding market."