The application of e-commerce can help local businesses enhance their competitiveness and boost the country's industrialisation and modernisation, said a ministry official at a seminar held in HCM Cityon April 21.

Phan The Hao, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's representative office in HCM City, said in the context of globalisation the country should increase the use of e-commerce to exploit new business opportunities in the international market.

Lai Viet Anh, manager of the Department of E-Commerce and Information Technology's Legal Deskt, said that with the development of the information technology and internet boom, the Ministry of Industry and Trade had created a plan to 2015 to apply e-commerce in many fields.

Under the plan, online transactions would be conducted by 80 percent of public services related to exports, imports, customs, tax declarations and payment procedures. Business and investment certificate applications would also be done online.

By 2015, 50 percent of public services related to commerce and production activities would be offered online.

Under the plan, all large companies are expected to apply e-commerce by 2015.

It is estimated that 70 percent of large companies will use emails, 80 percent will have website,; 70 percent will sell products and services through websites, 5 percent will have B2B and B2C transactions, and 20 percent will use software in business administration.

Viet Nam is also expected to establish a goods-transaction online department and develop reputable companies that will provide e-commerce services for the country and region.

As for small companies, 100 percent are expected to use email; 45 percent would have websites, and 30 percent would buy and sell products and services online.

Under the ministry's plan, 70 percent of supermarkets, shopping centres and modern distributors would allow customers to pay by credit card instead of cash.

Fifty percent of electricity, water and telecommunication service providers and 30 percent of transport, culture and tourism service providers are expected to accept online payments.

Le Duc Anh, deputy manager of the Department of E-Commerce and Information Technology's Online Public Service Desk, highlighted the importance of applying electronic signatures and securing data and information of organisations and businesses that use e-commerce.

Anh recommended that businesses use electronic signatures for transactions so that they can prevent fake signatures used in emails and other transactions.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the country needs to complete legal systems about e-commerce, develop human resources for e-commerce, enhance public services online, apply e-commerce technologies, and boost the state's effectiveness and management capacity of e-commerce.

The ministry has also developed a plan to promote e-commerce at localities in order to help businesses become familiar with e-commerce.

It also plans to offer training for e-commerce workers.

As of last month, all 63 provinces and cities across the country have developed plans to apply e-commerce in the 2011 – 15 period.

Plans of 34 localities have been approved, 17 plans have been completed, and 12 are waiting for approval./.