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  • Singapore Gives E-Commerce Another Push with New Blueprint
  • October 1, 1998 (SINGAPORE) -- Singapore introduced a blueprint for Internet-based electronic commerce that aims to generate business of about S$4 billion (US$2.385 billion) by 2003.
    The government also aims to target at least 25 leading logistics, manufacturing and services companies to set up their e-commerce regional operations here, with Compaq Computer Corp. of the United States just joining the bandwagon last week.

    Giving an added boost, the government also announced that it has signed the Berne Convention, which accords a minimum level of copyright protection on the Internet.

    In announcing the effort, which has been pushed aggressively by the Singapore government for months, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said "the regional economic crisis is not a reason to shelve our plans and ambitions."

    He said the government will boost the effort by offering its products and services electronically, and will also identify and promote promising local companies to succeed internationally and support them with venture capital and marketing assistance.

    Currently, about 200 companies in Singapore, both local and multinationals, transact via e-commerce generating business-to-business transactions of about S$200 million. Singapore has been one of the more aggressive proponents into e-commerce in the region, and has been pushing ahead to capture as much market share as possible despite the ongoing crisis.

    The government has also become the first in the region to introduce the necessary e-commerce legislation earlier this year to define and promote the trade.

    Lee announced the setting up of a government Internet shop called Shopfront, where 11 agencies will sell their products and services. "Payment for purchases is now done using the CashCard (an advanced store value card). Other forms of e-payment will be added soon," Lee said.

    In addition, the government will provide the necessary support to create suitable systems for Internet business-to-business transactions. These will cover areas like trade payments and multi-currency transactions over the next two years.

    "The financial sector is key in e-commerce. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (the de facto central bank) has commissioned a study on how our financial sector can leverage IT," Lee said.

    Boosting the government's call, Compaq has set up its regional e-commerce hub in Singapore, and will invest more than US$15 million over the next five years to support sales and marketing.

    "With all the enabling infrastructure in place, we want to encourage companies to use Singapore as a base to implement their e-commerce strategies. Our target is the growing pool of IT-savvy and promising local enterprises, as well as the 5,000 multinational corporations that have operations here," said National Computer Board Chairman David Lim at the launch of the Compaq initiative.

    "Over the next five years, the Economic Development Board has set itself the target of anchoring at least 25 of the leading logistics, manufacturing and services companies to set up their e-commerce operations in Singapore. Our aim is to establish Singapore as a global center for e-commerce," said Lim, who is also a Minister of State.

    Compaq's Asia/Pacific sales and marketing chief Paul Chan said that by 2002, more than 70 percent of the company's business in the region will be transacted via e-commerce. He said the company is capable of shipping up to 1 million PCs into the region currently.

    Chan said the company has certain expectations of how much business can come through its existing sales channels via the Internet. But "there could be sharp pickup from others who chose to buy a Compaq PC through our Internet channel," Chan said.

    (Joseph Rajendran, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Wed Sep 30 16:37:45 1998 PDT