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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Asia Bullish At Future E-Trading

HONG KONG -- The value of business-to-business Internet trade in Asia could top that of the United States by 2003, shattering the myth that the region lags behind in the Internet race, a top consultant said.

"There's a big myth that Asia is years behind the U.S., but I don't think we're behind at all," Joseph Sweeney, a Hong Kong-based research director with the Gartner Group, told a seminar Thursday.

"Asia is becoming the hub of e-commerce in the world in many cases," Sweeney said.

According to Gartner's latest figures, electronic commerce in the Asia Pacific could be worth about $340 billion by 2003 - up from its $320 billion estimate made four months ago.

About $272 billion of that would be in business-to-business trade, specifically relating to supply chain management.

Using the Internet and other forms of electronic trade to improve purchasing and delivery efficiency would boost productivity and returns for businesses, Sweeney said.

And, he said, it would come because Asia's vast number of small and medium-sized enterprises need to find efficiencies that they are not able to generate through economies of scale.

The United States meanwhile was relying on huge retail spending power and the lure of big brands to drive the development of e-trade, Sweeney said.

"We're moving in different directions in Asia and it's business-to-business that has the most potential," he said.

He said businesses would have to get used to much lower profit margins once they got onto the Internet, as price was the key competitive tool.

"Everyone assumes an equal level of quality and customer service on the Internet. Price is the differentiator," he said.