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Asean Urged to Bridge E-Commerce Gap

BANGKOK, Jan 3, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to work harder to establish an electronic-commerce (E-commerce) community as they are divided by a technology gap, the Thai Commerce Ministry said here Thursday.

Quoting a latest study by computer giant IBM, the ministry said in a report that while Singapore has the ability to compete with global rivals in E-commerce, the newest members of ASEAN, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, are still in the earliest stage without any formal national strategy on information technology.

ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, initiated the idea of setting up an E-commerce community in 1999, but there has been little progress since then because the newest members lack the ability to collect basic E-commerce information for sharing with others.

The report said Thailand, which ranks third in terms of E-commerce readiness in ASEAN following Singapore and Malaysia, should strengthen infrastructure for E-commerce such as electricity, internet uptake, cable television and mobile phones.