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Singapore E-Commerce Expected to Grow 34 Percent in 1999

Preliminary findings by the Singapore government show that there is very good potential for growth in the e-commerce sector, with revenues expected to hit a 34 percent increase to S$359 million (US$211 million) in 1999.

The comment was made by Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo at a parliament sitting last week, based on figures released in a written response to parliament.

He said surveys carried out by the Department of Statistics indicate that there is potential for strong growth despite the low level of activity now.

In 1998, about S$267 million was registered in revenues through e-commerce in Singapore, about 85 percent higher than 1997, he said.

The numbers for this year were based on a survey of 2,000 companies in February and detailed results are expected to be released shortly, he said.

The 1999 forecast growth is more bullish than the 11 percent growth forecast by the International Data Corp between 1998 and 2003.

This will be a major push for the government as it expects to attract global companies to locate their e-commerce activities in Singapore, he said.

The Economic Development Board, the country's chief investment attraction agency, expects to get at least a quarter of the leading logistics, manufacturing and services companies to set up e-commerce activities in Singapore, said Yeo.

Yeo, who recently took over the trade and industry portfolio, added that surveys conducted by the National Computer Board (NCB), a statutory agency, indicates a high level of Internet readiness on the part of companies here.

About 73 percent of the 1,000 companies surveyed by the NCB already had corporate Internet access and over a third had corporate Web sites, said Yeo.

About 9 percent of those surveyed indicated that readiness to conduct business-to-business transactions over the Internet, he said.

Yeo also told members of parliament, however, that small- and medium-sized companies are still lagging behind in implementing e-commerce.

In a separate public event, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Yeo Cheow Tong said e-commerce transactions will become mainstream economic activity for the republic and will account for 50 percent of business activity by 2003.

He said the government is expected to release a master-plan for the information and communications sector in which e-commerce will feature prominently. One of the thrusts of the master-plan will be to boost Singapore as a knowledge-based economy.