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Trade Minister Announces E-Commerce Strategy

Trade NZ initiative to enable exporters to trade online

Minister for Trade Negotiations, Hon Jim Sutton, today announced a major e-commerce initiative for Trade New Zealand that will help small and medium exporters gain much-needed access to the new global economy and increase overall export earnings through trading online.

E-commerce is now a significant driver in the global economy and we can’t afford to have our small and medium exporters left behind in this online revolution,’ Mr Sutton said.

‘Timeliness is critical. So far, New Zealand has been slow to fully embrace e-commerce. We have to act now to bridge that gap and Trade New Zealand’s innovative strategy, which has been under development for nine months, is the perfect start.’

The two-year project ‘ the single biggest initiative Trade NZ has undertaken in recent years ‘ aims to lead and facilitate New Zealand exporters ‘ entry into e-commerce by: Promoting and educating exporters about e-commerce opportunities Improving delivery of Trade NZ services to exporters by adding online services to a multiple-channel approach Enabling exporters to expand their traditional business practices to include effective competition online. The new strategy addresses an increasing market demand among exporters and their customers for e-commerce, particularly business-to-business e-commerce, which is predicted to grow globally from US$109 billion in 1999 to US$1331 billion by 2003.

Mr Sutton said: ‘New Zealanders have been significant users of new technologies, but the business-to-business element of e-commerce is under subscribed here, and we are two to three years behind the US and Europe. There is no substantive reason why true e-commerce, involving transactions and payments, should not be taken up by small and medium size businesses as they have been in economies such as Singapore and Ireland.

‘Trade New Zealand’s mission is to foster the development and expansion of foreign exchange earnings by taking a leadership role in issues that affect exporters. This e-commerce strategy not only addresses specific issues raised by exporters, but will also enable more businesses to take their first steps into exporting and expand our current exporter base.

‘New Zealand needs to deliver in the new knowledge economy,’ Mr Sutton said. ‘To do so, we have to be innovative and take advantage of every opportunity. By reducing the barriers of time, distance, language and currency, internet-led technologies offer very efficient ways to reduce these traditional constraints.’

Mr Sutton cited South Korea as an example of a nation that has already embarked on a national strategy, Cyber Korea 21, to build a knowledge-based society, creating more jobs and increasing national productivity through its information infrastructure.

South Korea plans to have 30 million of its 45 million people on-line and trained to use the Internet by the end of next year.

‘Trade New Zealand understands the needs, capabilities and aspirations of exporters, as well as the demands of international markets,’ he said.

‘This unique set of attributes supports an unrivalled ‘capability’ to effectively assist small and medium size businesses in particular to enter e-commerce.

‘We also see this as a leading implementation of Government’s overall strategy to put New Zealand government services online.’


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