E-minister's vision as UK scores well in benchmark

E-minister Douglas Alexander has set out his vision of a UK economy built on e-commerce.

E-minister Douglas Alexander has set out his vision of a UK economy built on e-commerce.

Alexander was announcing the findings of the International Benchmarking Study 2001, which puts the UK among the world leaders in use of e-commerce.

Speaking at Interforum's E-connect 2001, the minister said: "E-commerce is essential to the future growth of the UK economy. The aim is to create a high skill, high wage, high productivity economy."

The International Benchmarking Study, commissioned by the DTI through the government's UK Online for Business agency, measured the UK's performance against 10 other leading countries and its success in meeting government targets.

Key findings include 80% of UK businesses having a Web site, an increase from 66% last year, and a 20% increase in business trading online from 2000.

In total, 1.9 million SMEs are online, exceeding the government's target of 1.5 million by 2002, and nearly every UK region has at least 75% of businesses with a Web site.

Alexander said: "The study confirms we are making progress towards our primary aim of making the UK the best place in the world to do e-business. The UK continues to be among the world leaders in making more sophisticated use of technology to transform business processes."

But the e-minister admitted that the government and industry had to improve the roll out of broadband to move to the next stage of e-commerce in the UK. "Broadband reduces development and production time and breaks down geography," he said.

"Pushing broadband is government and industry's challenge. We have set up the Broadband Stakeholders Group to hear the views of the private sector, UK Online for Business is raising awareness and we have just announced a £30m package of regional funds to help broadband delivery," he added.

The e-minister also called on government and industry to "rise up" to meet the key problem of bridging the digital divide and putting more consumers and businesses on the Internet.

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