International Briefs


Competition Between Hong Kong and Singapore Takes to the Net

Hong Kong and Singapore have vied with each other for decades for leadership in shipping, trade, and financial services. Now that competition has spread to cyberspace.


In the last year, the two cities each launched
advanced local telecommunications networks capable of delivering high-speed
Internet access as well as multimedia services to residents.


In contrast to
Singapore’s government-driven approach, Hong Kong has more faith in market
forces and entrepreneurship. In a 1990 television documentary by the BBC,
Singapore was dubbed the “Intelligent Island.” The government wants to
foster a domestic multimedia industry, a kind of “digital Hollywood”
serving content to the rest of the world.


IDC predicts e-commerce activity in Singapore will jump from a minuscule $5 million this year to more than $800 million by 2001.


(AsiaWeek; June 5, 1998)


CNN, IDG in Online Deal for Technology News in English; Spanish to Follow

CNN Interactive and publishing group IDG formed a strategic relationship to expand their news and technology services on the Web.


IDG.net will be the preferred provider of technology content to CNN Interactive’s Sci-Tech Computing section. IDG brands like Computerworld, InfoWorld, JavaWorld, Network World, and PC World will provide news, features, reviews and tips to CNN.com.


In the near future, the IDG.net sites in Latin America and Spain will provide additional Spanish-language technology news for CNNenEspanol.com. CNN’s international sites also include CNNemPortugues.com and Svenska CNN, a Swedish-language news site produced with Telia.


(Web Vision, India; June 5, 1998)


France Telecom Launches Secure E-commerce Service for Retailers

Hoping to push the floundering e-commerce market in France, telco France
Telecom launched Telecommerce, a service for small and medium-sized
French retailers.


It is expected to be used by several thousand firms in
the next 18 months. Telecommerce will be using Open Market software, and
conduct encrypted credit transactions with banks.


France Telecom estimates
Internet sales could reach $3 billion to $4 billion at the turn of the
century. The French use Secure Socket Layer security, but want to move
quickly to full Secure Electronic Transactions.


(Web Vision, India; June 5, 1998)


New Report Urges Thailand to Pass Laws for Internet Commerce

Thailand urgently needs to pass new laws to govern electronic commerce
(such as through authorised digital signatures) if the country is not to
suffer “a disastrous loss in competitiveness in the region,” according a
report by the Hong Kong-based New Century Group (NCG).


There is a high
level of interest in digital commerce in Thailand, particularly among
banks, telecommunication companies and leading retail organisations. Laws
are currently being drafted by the National Electronic and Computer
Technology Centre (Nectec).


The regulations are said to include a data
protection clause, computer crime law, electronic data interchange (EDI),
digital signature law, as well as an electronic funds transfer law.


(Bangkok Post May 27, 1998)


New Report: Australian Internet Use Doubling Each Year

A new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of Australian homes using the Internet is increasing by 100% each year.


Titled “Use of the Internet by Householders,” the report
shows that the number of home Internet users has increased from 250,000 in
February 1996 to around 1 million at the start of 1998.


The report
estimates that around 3 million people in total have accessed the Internet
with 1.3 million of those being in the 25-29 year old age group.


Only 207,000 people have made an online purchase; and the Net is still a male
dominated medium, with 1.7 male million users compared to 1.3 million women.


(I-Net.com magazine, Australia; May 27, 1998)


Internet Shopping Picks Up Steam in New Zealand

Patrick Pilcher, an analyst at research company IDC New Zealand, said the
Internet commerce market in the country may be worth up to US$655 million by 2001.


The figure includes consumer and business usage of the Net.


One of New
Zealand’s biggest electronic commerce success stories is Auckland-based PC Direct, which has seen over $1 million in sales since launch in January.


Flower seller Interflora receives about 4,000 hits a month to its sites, of which three to four percent translate into sales.


(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; May 25, 1998)


Web-based Commerce Grows Steadily in Europe

The use of the Internet for electronic commerce in Europe is growing
rapidly, according to information technology equipment suppliers and market
analysts.


Dell Computer said its sales in Europe were now running at $1
million a day. Dell is receiving over 100,000 visitors to its European Web
sites a week out of a total 750,000.


A group of IT industry leaders led by 3Com announced the Alliance for the Internet in Europe. The Alliance plans to urge legislators and governments to solve issues holding back electronic commerce, such as infrastructure and tariffs. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has set up a lobby group to put forward a series of proposals about the development of e-commerce in Britain.


(Internet Magazine, Financial Times, Britain; May 27, 1998)


EDI Conference in India Advocates Nationwide Access to the Internet

Nationwide access to computers, the Internet and Internet telephony is a
must if India is to reach global standards in infotech diffusion and
e-commerce adoption, according to N. Vittal, Chairman of the Public
Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), who inaugurated the recent Edicon’98
e-commerce conference in New Delhi.


Commerce Secretary Mr. P.P. Prabhu said
the government had recently constituted a task force to formulate the draft
national policy on informatics whose aim would be to enable India to emerge
as an information technology superpower within the next decade.


Dr. N.
Seshagiri, National Informatics Centre director general, said the
government’s mindset should be changed to promote electronic commerce and
EDI.


(Business Line, Press Trust of India; May 29, 1998)


WTO Agreement: No Internet Taxation for a Year

Software and goods delivered on the Internet will be duty free for at least
a year, according to an agreement signed by ministers from the 132 members
of the World Trade Organization.


The agreement bars
governments for the next year from trying to collect tariffs on items
traded via the Internet; it does not cover products ordered from a Web site
but delivered by normal means across physical borders.


Eight billion dollars worth of commerce was conducted on the Internet in the U.S. last year, a figure projected to shoot up to $327 billion early next century.


(Reuters News Agency; May 20, 1998)


FedEx Expects Greater Business Growth in Asia

Federal Express (FedEx) expects its worldwide business to expand in the
future through the growth of electronic commerce and Internet technology,
according to Douglas Topken, managing director, electronic commerce service
marketing.


Around 1.7 million packages are tracked each month on the FedEx site. Topken said the company aims at becoming the “airline of the Internet.”


FedEx handles about three million packages per day globally. The
percentage of business done electronically is now around 35 percent in
Asia, up from low 20 percent levels two years ago.


(Reuters News Agency; May 22, 1998)


Internet Will Play a Vital Role in China, Albeit Via Filtered Content

Internet users in China will see content that has been selected, filtered,
and published from government servers in 10 Chinese cities.


“We are trying to strike a balance between the free flow of information and protecting our culture and social values,” said Peter Yip, vice chairman of the China Internet Corporation, a company set up by the Chinese government to manage the Internet.


Yip was part of a panel on filtering Net content at the
recent Second International Harvard Conference on Internet and Society. Yip
said even with a filtered content flow, the Internet will be “the single
most important force in opening China to the world and transforming the
economy.”


(Web Vision, India; June 5, 1998)

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