UK businesses banking on staying out of the euro are ignoring the reality of e-commerce which will result in companies having to trade in the currency whether the government decides to join the eurozone or not, according to a new survey by Bull Information Systems. Two out of three UK companies back joining the single currency, though only half that number recognise the euro has the potential to extend markets and open up new opportunities, according to the survey of 250 UK and Irish companies. Three out of four companies already have suppliers within the eurozone, with almost as many having eurozone customers, according to the research, which was based mainly on interviews with finance directors. But Tim Lines, a general manager in Bull's systems integration division, said too many UK companies were ignoring the combined impact of the euro and e-commerce. 'Not many people realised that with the euro and e-commerce combined it isn't an in or out issue,' Lines said. 'If you are trading in euros over the Internet, it's not a question of being in or out. It's got to be done.' Lines also said the impact of the euro would have been less if it had come into force five years ago - before the advent of e-commerce. Some 90% of manufacturing companies had both suppliers and customers in the eurozone but just one in five said they saw a competitive threat from the eurozone. 'It is actually the sector that has the most competitive threat,' said Richard Baldwin, marketing manager in Bull's ERP consultancy. 'But the financial sector had much more understanding of the competitive threat.' Most companies were looking forward to the euro removing exchange rate uncertainty with price transparency also widely seen as an advantage, the survey found. But many finance directors feared the loss of control over the national economy and the perceived inability of the European Union to agree on policy.
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