As a major offshore jurisdiction with tens of thousands of offshore enterprises already installed, including many trading companies, it is only a matter of time before the Netherlands Antilles become a centre of e-commerce activity. The islands' geographical location, their good telecommunications links and sophisticated business infrastructure add to the inevitability of a significant e-future for the Netherlands Antilles.
Indeed the Netherlands Antilles has already made a significant start with the opening of a new E-Commerce Park project on Curaçao with a multifunctional datacentre which was operational from November 1, 2001.
The key element of the E-Commerce Park is its location. The Park is situated next door to the UTS building with its direct connection to the backbone of the most important telecom cables resulting in high-quality, continuous 24/7 service from its Network Operating Centre.
The E-Commerce Park provides facilities for global offshore internet companies that re-locate their activities to Curaçao. A company that establishes in the E-Commerce Park building will be awarded vital tax incentives under legislation implemented which provides for the establishment of tax-privileged E-Zone areas.
As of April 1, 2001, special tax legislation for international Internet companies on Curaçao came into force to act as an incentive to persuade e-commerce companies to relocate their activities to the Island. The new law replaces the old Free Zone law and governs 'E-Zones' which are areas within the Netherlands Antilles where international trade and trade supportive services may be carried out by electronic communication and electronic commerce.
Only companies with a capital divided into shares may perform activities in the e-zones including trading or providing services to companies located outside the Netherlands Antilles.
A company may be allowed to conduct business with other firms located in an e-zone but the company has to apply to the local authority before doing so. If given the go ahead the company must meet a certain criteria of conditions relating to price setting, quality of the goods and services on offer and the distribution of goods. The turnover generated through local business may not exceed 25% of the total turnover.
In terms of profit tax the profit of companies within the e-zones will be taxed at 2% - including surtax - until January 1, 2026. This rate is not applicable on the profit of an e-zone company if it is generated by the sale of goods or services to companies located in the Netherlands Antilles or generated through the rendering of services to affiliated companies located in the country. In addition there is no import duty or turnover tax charged on goods entering the e-zones.
Finally, employees who have lived in excess of five years outside the Netherlands Antilles before starting work in an e-zone can qualify for expatriate status, with certain tax-free benefits - providing certain conditions are met. An e-zone company can calculate the wage tax on the net salary of the employee without being required to 'gross up' the salary.
In Feb 2003 Providence, Rhode Island-based Polar Cove, an enterprise information security consultant, established a security monitoring center in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, from where it offers security protection to on-line gaming companies.
Polar Cove's Gaming Security Package includes:
- 24 x 7 x 365 Intrusion Prevention and Intrusion monitoring. Polar Cove provides around-the-clock, real-time surveillance of gaming systems from the state-of-the-art control center, responding to security breaches and internal network abuse before your gaming system can be compromised.
- 24 X 7 x 365 Managed Firewall and VPN. Polar Cove's managed security services include managed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), logical restricted-use networks that make it possible to communicate securely over the Internet from anywhere in the world; and managed Internet security, a Checkpoint Firewall-1 gateway service that restricts data communication to and from a gaming network and includes firewall monitoring, maintenance, and response.
- 24 x 7 x 365 Business Continuity Management & Monitoring. Polar Cove offers: daily data backups, backup power, 24x7 hardware and software monitoring and maintenance, and uptime monitoring.
- Technical Environment Engineered for Security and eBusiness Continuity. Depending on need, there are Windows 2000, Windows.NET and UNIX servers, all with a secure "hardened" OS to provide a high level of security and reliability. Polar Cove engineers can propose eBusiness environments with the appropriate level of redundancies based on stated needs to mitigate risk and support the availability of mission-critical gaming applications.
- Class A Data Center Located in Curaçao, N.V. This service provides multiple redundancies in order to minimize potential single points of failure. The center has a high level of physical security.
- Robust Network Connectivity. Redundant switches, routers, and links provide a robust connection to the Internet. The data center is connected via multiple major backbone providers to deliver fast, reliable service.
- Security Assurance Testing and Reporting. Polar Cove conducts periodic vulnerability assessments to validate and ensure that online gaming applications are not at risk.
For information about the impact of e-commerce on a number of the main offshore activities which take place in the Netherlands Antilles,click on a link below to go to our specialist E-commerce site Offshore-e-com.com
To see an analysis of the current state of legal and tax issues surrounding offshore e-commerce, click here.