Report: UK trails US, Europe in e-commerce

Upcoming report will support the feeling that British business lags in cyberspace.

A report commissioned by prime minister Tony Blair is expected to criticise UK business for failing to exploit the full potential of the Net.

The report, due September, was put together by the Performance and Innovation Unit of the cabinet office and suggests British business is lagging behind Europe and the US.

Originally commissioned to find out how best the UK could compete in the e-commerce arena, the findings will do little to inspire confidence, according to reports. Cabinet office officials would not comment on the details of the report but a spokesman claims the idea the UK lags behind in terms of cyber-business is a "generally accepted fact".

Stefan Elmer, analyst with research firm, knows from his company's own findings that "growth is slower in the UK than in other European countries... despite the fact the UK had a head-start", he says. Elmer believes European businesses have been more aggressive in exploiting the Internet market. "When you are ahead you don't put in as much effort and large companies in the UK are relatively conservative when it comes to new technology," he said.

Secretary general of the ISPA (Internet Service Providers' Association) Nicholas Lansman believes the government must take part of the blame for the attitude of British firms. "The government can only give a wake-up call to business if business has something to work with. There has to be the regulatory and business environment for Internet trade to operate in and there is not yet an environment where businesses can seize the opportunity," he says. This, Lansman thinks, is largely due to the delays and problems with the e-commerce bill and the lack of the long-promised e-commerce czar.