EU postpones decision on on-line taxation

European Union finance ministers shelved plans to introduce value added tax on on-line transactions, setting themselves a deadline of the end of June next year by which to reach a decision. The stumbling block in front of an agreement is the question of how to charge the VAT on transactions between buyers of goods and services on-line inside the EU and sellers from outside.

Until now, two options have been considered. First, the on-line operator could choose the member state, which would obviously result in companies choosing the country with the lowest tax level. The UK and the European Commission, the EU executive body, are seen favouring this approach. The second idea, proposed by France and Belgium, would require operators to register in all member states – an option that might be difficult to administer.

African e-commerce forum set for March

London, U.K.-based African IT Exhibitions and Conferences (AITEC) Corp. is hosting an African electronic-commerce forum in March of next year that is expected to lead to a green paper on the continent’s e-commerce development. The aim of the forum is to develop a continent-wide e-commerce strategy.

E-commerce in Africa is nascent and faces bandwidth and infrastructure problems. A key issue at the conference will be how to make e-commerce work without mass use of credit cards, which are not widely employed in Africa.

c hones e-commerce efforts

Microsoft Corp. recently unveiled a revamped e-commerce strategy, dubbed the dotSmart initiative, which focuses on industry partners and expanded service offerings. Aimed at e-commerce decision-makers, dotSmart’s chief feature is a Web site,, which offers advice and information on topics such as best on-line commerce practices, case studies, vertical markets and Microsoft’s .NET direction.

The site also will feature direct communication with Microsoft and its partners to provide “a one-stop shop for customers to act on dotSmart information by engaging with partners and Microsoft Technology Centers,” according to the Redmond, Wash.-based company.