European governments are failing to create the right legal and business climate for e-commerce to flourish and risk falling further behind the US as it strides ahead in the new economy.
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That is the key concern of business leaders in an extensive survey of the e-commerce strategies of more than 600 European, US and South African firms carried out by Andersen Consulting.
The findings are likely to embarrass the Government - which has touted the UK as a haven for e-business - as it prepares to release its own e-commerce progress report this week.
Directors in the survey, published last week, were concerned that the legal and business climate for e-commerce in Europe was less favourable than in the US. They fear that, coupled with the prolonged skills shortage, this could curb the future growth of e-commerce in Europe.
But on a more positive note 97% of those surveyed are engaged in e-commerce. Fear of being overtaken by rivals was the main reason given for e-commerce initiatives.
While acknowledging the efforts of the European Commission to foster e-commerce, the report warned the commission that more progress is needed in both private and public sectors if Europe is to compete with the US in e-commerce.
"It is vitally important that the continent's leading players, from business to government, understand that getting the 'e' right is not only a matter utilising the power of information technologies," said Vernon Ellis, international chairman of Andersen Consulting. "It is essential that this is linked to revitalised entrepreneurial spirit."
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