Electronic commerce had the potential to create or destroy Australian businesses, Austrade's managing director, Charles Jamieson, told the National Press Club in Canberra last week.
Jamieson said that the Internet was the largest and fastest growing technological revolution in world history and Internet trade would equal the total value of the Australian economy within five years.
He said the nation's exporting community was leading the global upheaval in information technology and new business methods are developing a competitive edge by training workers and paying them well, planning and forecasting their sales, and using the Internet to attract customers worldwide.
"In the information age, geography is seemingly irrelevant as the Internet and e-commerce give Australian companies the economies of scale needed to reach the critical mass of global consumers," he said. "Any Australian company that has a Web site now has the potential to be an exporter."
While Australia's 22,000 exporters are the leaders of a national revolution poised to usher in a new era of economic prosperity, Jamieson warned Australian companies that American companies could reach Australian consumers.
"If Australian companies were without Internet connections and information age skills they would not be able to compete," Jamieson said.
"We're witnessing a fundamental revolution in the way the world does business. Every revolution has its vanguard - those who grasp innovation, are open to new ideas, and are prepared to risk the comfortable and known for a better future.
"Australia's exporters are the vanguard of the global information age revolution."