The Government has made a good start in encouraging electronic commerce but manufacturing industry needs more specific help, the Institute for Manufacturing said this week.
`It’s great that they have addressed e-business,’ said Liz Amos, director of the IFM’s Centre for Manufacturing Policy. `The only problem with a PR campaign is that more complicated aspects may not be addressed.
`There are more detailed issues, such as support for business-to-business internet usage, which will have to be addressed,’ she said.
The Government’s report into e-business, launched on Monday, calls for a campaign to create an `e-commerce buzz’ in the UK. At the launch, Tony Blair warned: `If you’re not exploiting the opportunities of e-commerce, you could go bust.’
The report also calls for an investigation into potential barriers to internet usage from telecommunications companies and internet service providers.
Oftel, the telecommunications regulator, is expected to look at restrictions on internet trade in a joint inquiry with the Office of Fair Trading. It is already investigating claims that BT is providing a poor service to other providers using its lines.
The Government should be vigilant in retaining taxes from e-commerce, the report says. But, says Amos: `The problem is that without proper guidance, tax authorities could go overboard.’
Chris Dibben, webmaster for the Engineering Employers’ Federation, welcomed the Government’s emphasis on improving internet security. `The thing that is holding manufacturers back is the issue of trust. There is not enough understanding of how safe the internet is to use. Anything that improves that has to be good.’
Small companies are the Government’s main target for boosting internet usage, according to Patricia Hewitt, e-commerce minister.
The report finds that the UK’s international performance is poorest among small and medium-sized businesses.
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