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Report raps 'irrelevant' targets

Hazel Ward
Whitehall's efforts to get a million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) trading online by 2002 have failed, and the Government should take a step back and allow businesses to drive their own e-commerce agendas, says the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

In a scathing report published earlier this week, the BCC dismissed the Government's efforts to have one million SMEs trading online by 2002 as a "hindrance and a distraction" which is irrelevant to business.

Citing figures published recently in the Government's Business in the Information Age 2001 survey showing that only 540,000 SMEs are trading online, the BCC report said businesses would not respond to "artificial targets" set by the Government.

Sally Low, e-business policy adviser for the BCC, said, "Business and government share the same ambition for Britain's small firms to develop world class e-business [but] British companies are not in the business of fulfilling aspirational targets set by any government.

The Department of Trade & Industry refused to comment directly on the report, but said, "We have set challenging targets and will continue to work to help UK businesses to get to the future first."

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