After a year of consultation, top global manufacturers and retailers have finally drawn up a draft outlining a set of global standards for internet trading of consumer goods. The Global Commerce Internet Protocol' has the support of 40 of the world's leading retailers and suppliers including Tesco, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Unilever. The protocol represents the first results of work being undertaken by the Global Commerce Initiative. GCI, which represents the world's biggest manufacturers and retailers, was founded last year to look at how businesses could work together to promote global supply chain efficiency. Its draft protocol tackles three key issues: data access/security, data content and information flow. Working groups have been created to address each area. The technical infrastructure team is developing a standard language for communi cating messages across the internet. The data alignment team is defining the basic business process model and data required in b2b transactions, and the core business processes group is aiming to standardise the processes of ordering, delivery notification and payment. "In recommending preliminary global data and communications standards, this move eliminates one of the biggest obstacles to effective internet trading," said Marks and Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde. M&S is a member of the Worldwide Retail Exchange, which also has Tesco and Safeway on its books along with a host of major US and European retailers including Ahold, Casino, Auchan and Delhaize. Sainsbury and Metro have joined rival e-marketplace Global NetXchange. Both organisations support the protocol. Different conventions between competing internet exchanges are both confusing and costly, according to GCI co-chairman and Nestlé executive vice president Dr Mario A Corti. He said: "We can only process data with confidence through the application of internationally recognised open' and voluntary standards." {{NEWS }}