Economist Intelligence Unit ranks e-commerce by nation

In order to become the world’s best electronic-business player, a country needs to have a various mix of factors – not only economic wealth, but a good business infrastructure and, especially, cooperative government policies. The need to have such factors in place was underscored in new “E-readiness” rankings from the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. (EIU) and its communications unit, Pyramid Research Inc.

The results, released Thursday, showcase some surprising results, although the U.S. was awarded a predictable first place.

The biggest surprise for analysts who conduced the study came from Australia, which jumped to second place behind the U.S. from nowhere near the top in the previous rankings, which placed more emphasis on countries’ business environments and had less detailed methodology, according to Louisa Vinton, the editor of the EIU Business Forum.

Its neighbor country New Zealand, which is slightly behind Australia in wealth and PC penetration, made it to 20th in the rankings, which included 60 countries. What differentiated the two countries was the Australia’s “proactive government policy,” Vinton said.

Strong government policies should give companies freedom by helping avoid monopolies and letting the competition flow between them through regulatory policies, Vinton said. Such policies helped put Australia 18 places ahead of New Zealand.

All the Scandinavian countries were ranked in the top 10, with Norway in the fifth spot, Sweden in the sixth and Finland in the eighth, as a result of their well-equipped telecommunication infrastructure.

“I think a sense of remoteness of those countries promotes the strong mobile telecommunication background and it can be applied to Australia, too,” Vinton said.

Although it is one of the most advanced nations in Europe when it comes to the Internet, the rankings found France in 15th place. The country offers a smaller reflection of the global market because it is locally focused and does not follow worldwide trends, according to Vinton.

Some relatively small countries ranked higher than larger countries. For instance, Singapore finished seventh and Netherlands 10th, whereas large countries such as China and India did not score well, despite the fact that they both have experienced large growth of in the number of people using the Internet, and both have highly skilled technology workers.

The methodology model in the rankings tallied scores across six categories: connectivity; business environment; e-commerce consumer and business adoption; legal and regulatory environment; supporting e-services, and social and cultural infrastructure.

EIU, in New York, can be contacted at Pyramid Research, in Cambridge Mass., can be contacted at