Evans advises Latin America on e-commerce
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (IDG) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans said Wednesday that business on the Internet represented "the future of economic growth in the Western Hemisphere." But he also warned Latin America about the poor quality of its available infrastructure, the lack of reliable means of payment, and widely varying import-export regulations.
Evans, who was in Buenos Aires for a trade ministers' meeting, emphasized the need for the region to adopt laws that recognize the legal validity of electronic signatures and to provide access to dispute-resolution mechanisms.
In a speech here at an e-commerce trade show, Evans said upcoming negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would stretch from Argentina to Alaska, should include rules to promote business over the Internet.
Currently, there is no FTAA negotiating group on e-commerce. The proposed FTAA accord would create the globe's largest free-trade area. In the specified region, roughly 783 million people produced more than $11.4 trillion in goods and services during 1999.
E-commerce is growing slowly in Latin America, mainly because of the area's low rate of PC and credit card penetration. Last year, total e-commerce sales reached roughly $1 billion, according to a report by consulting firm Accenture and Spanish bank Santander Central Hispano.
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