Canada gets good grades when it comes to e-business adoption – but there’s still room for improvement, according to the final Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable report released Monday.

“Overall, this is an ‘A minus’ report card,” said David Pecaut, CEO of iFormation Group (New York) and Canadian E-business Opportunities Roundtable chairman. “As a country, we have made substantial progress both in improving the tax and regulatory environment for e-business and in consumer connectivity.”

As a public-private sector initiative created in 1999 to boost Canada’s ranking in the Internet economy, the Roundtable’s final report, Fast Forward 3.0: Maintaining the Momentum, updates Canada’s e-report card and highlights the progress made by the Canadian e-business sector.

It found that Canada now ranks above or very close to the U.S. in terms of Internet users and Internet hosts and sits at the top of G7 countries in the share of population that uses the Internet, the report said.

Among the report’s other findings:

– According to market research firm IDC, the value of Canadian e-commerce jumped from US$15.6 billion in 2000 to US$26.4 in 2001 – an increase of 69 per cent.

– Roundtable recommendations to reduce corporate taxes in order to boost e-business adoption have met with success, the report found. In 2000, the federal capital gains inclusion rate dropped from 75 per cent to 50 cent, improving the “climate for e-business and innovation in Canada.”

– Recommendations to boost growth through Government On-Line (GOL) has in part resulted in the government providing $600 million to implement the GOL strategy by 2005. The government has also committed more resources towards the IT infrastructure of its departments and agencies.

– Up from 53 per cent in 1999, 63 per cent of Canadian business are now online, with the level of connectivity continuing to rise.

– “Perception still trails performance” but Canada global e-business brand jumped three spots to number four in the e-readiness ranking complied by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Economist Intelligence Unit and Pyramid Research.

Andrew Sage, director of marketing for Ottawa-based Cisco Systems Canada and Roundtable member, said the focus has been in promoting e-business adoption in small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and recommending regulatory reform.

“Our idea around SME adoption was that if we chose some companies in Canada that were doing a fantastic job of using e-business…by doing that we would encourage other companies to do the same,” Sage said.

He added that government changes would encourage and stimulate Canadian e-business investment. “What we hope is that it’s going to attract businesses to Canada,” Sage said.

“As a result of recommendations from the Roundtable, the federal government has created a Government On-Line agency. That’s going a benefit all of us in the future in terms of using government services.”

Sage added that the Roundtable work would be continued by a new public-private sector initiative called the Canadian e-Business Initiative.

The full report can be found at

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