Trade Secretary Stephen Byers is carrying on the momentum set by his predecessor Peter Mandelson on establishing the UK the leader in the 'Information Age'.
Back in September Mandelson pledged to make the UK the best country in which to trade electronically and announced the Secure Electronic Commerce Bill to introduce legislation and other initiatives to ensure ecommerce reaches its full potential.
Speaking at the CBI in London on Friday, Byers praised the UK?s developments in technology including digital television, third generation mobile phones and the telecomms infrastructure. He said the government is determined to build on these strong foundations.
?We have set ourselves two ambitious goals. To develop the UK as the best environment in the world in which to trade electronically, and to ensure that we exploit that environment to the full, by trebling the number of businesses wired to the digital marketplace by one million by 2002,? said Byers.
To help ensure these goals are met, Byers reiterated the new measures outlined by Mandelson last year. He said the government will announce a major industry led initiative to boost consumer confidence in online shopping through a ?digital hallmark? initiative for best practice Web sites.
Missing from Byers speech, however, was news on when the post of Digital Envoy would be filled. Mandelson admitted last November that just having a strategy for ecommerce was not enough and that the Digital Envoy was essential for the government?s vision of the UK as the hub of electronic trading to become a reality.
This adds fuel to speculation whether the post has been scrapped. Last week Derek Wyatt, Labour MP and chairman of the Parliamentary All Party Internet Group, said he was not sure it would still happen, despite many hundreds of applicants.
A DTI spokesperson said they were still going through the selection process and hope to announce the appointment later this month.
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