According to Yahoo Panama and the Czech Republic have announced they will sign the international $500 billion treaty that will remove tariffs in the exploding information technology trade by the year 2000 among developed countries, including the US, EU, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, India and Taiwan. So-called developing nations, including India and Costa Rica will have until 2005 to 2007 to remove tariffs. The deal has been negotiated outside the world trade body, the WTO, but officials plan to incorporate the agreement. Some of the WTO’s power and reach will be tested since the incorporation of the IT deal into the WTO will force countries that did not sign the agreement to abide by its terms.

For those of you interested in and supporting the Tibet government-in-exile or in the proposition that expanding what’s been called the electronic townhall, The TibetNet Project is hoping to raise US$35,000 to connect the the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile to the internet.

Many people have watched in wonder in the last few days as MicroSoft stock has been pummelled. The immeadiate cause may be a combintation of the security problems –now mostly fixed– in the sofware giant’s browser and delays in Windows ’97, the next version of the company’s operting system. Since both are short term issues experienced by every software vendor, MicroSoft’s downturn seems a blip to many. But, a combination of trends –WebTV, NetPCs, etc.– seem destined to reduce the vast majority of the computer market to one of component appliances. That will accelerate the increasing emphasis on so-called content: websites, movies, audio, etc. Jeffrey Young is one of a number of commentators on the problems that this will cause the software giant.