Brussels, Belgium - The issue of Internet sales taxes could provoke a trade war between Europe and the United States, according to a report by the British Broadcasting Corp.

The European Commission recently closed a tax loophole that enabled U.S. companies to avoid paying value-added taxes on European Internet sales. The Brussels-based commission proposed instead that U.S. companies be allowed to choose the European Union country in which they will pay the tax. France and other European nations object to that proposal. They say they will be deprived of revenue because most U.S. companies will simply register in Luxembourg, where the tax rate is lowest at 15%. Officials warn that a trade war with the U.S. could ensue unless European nations reach a compromise on the issue, the BBC reported.

Bethesda, Md. - Storetrax.com recently formed a strategic partnership designed to boost its presence on the West Coast. The Bethesda, Md.-based real estate information service formed a partnership with Dan Bercu, a 12-year veteran of West Coast retail real estate. Bercu will work closely with Storetrax partner Jim Rosenfeld to forge relationships with property owners and tenants in the region.

"Dan and Jim have reputations that speak for themselves in the retail real estate community," notes Storetrax chairman and CEO Rob Rosenfeld. "Their endorsements have afforded us additional opportunities to get face-to-face meetings with heavy-hitting developers, property owners, retailers and brokers."

Storetrax.com helps owners and developers share property information with brokers and tenants worldwide, and assists brokers and tenants with site selection and deal-making. The site lists retail properties in 46 states totaling more than 410 million sq. ft., including 31 million sq. ft. in the state of California.

West Nyack, N.Y. - GeePS.com recently began providing wireless service to a major New York retail center, enabling the mall and its 220 tenants to send special promotions to consumers' wireless phones.

Cranbury, N.J.-based GeePS.com describes itself as the first location-sensitive, wireless applications service provider to target brick-and-mortar merchants and malls. The company's mobile commerce technologies will enable the 2 million-sq.-ft. Palisades Center in West Nyack, N.Y., to deliver targeted, local shopping information and news to consumers via their wireless-enabled telephones. GeePS.com also will provide text messaging and e-mail services to help the mall and its retailers reach consumers.

The mall's 20 million annual visitors will be able to choose the stores and categories from which they will receive promotional messages, either by registering on Palisades Center's website or at special mall kiosks.

Chicago & Los Angeles - PropertyFirst.com recently was selected to develop and host what it describes as the first-ever online database of appraiser-verified commercial real estate information.

The Los Angeles-based dot.com signed an 11-year deal with the 19,000-member Appraisal Institute, a leading association of commercial and residential appraisal professionals, to develop and host an online bank of real estate data.

"Bits and pieces of market data are available everywhere, but what's missing is a comprehensive single source of high quality, up-to-date verified commercial property data," says Woodward Hanson, president of the Chicago-based Appraisal Institute.

The foundation of the service, which is set to launch in first quarter 2001, will be appraiser-verified sale, lease and operating expense data for commercial properties nationwide. Appraisal Institute members will provide content for the database using approved methods and standards.

In addition to its benefit to real estate professionals, the service will help appraisers develop valuation reports, trending analytics, and other products, Hanson says.