Trade Group Says Mobile Phone Taxes Holding Back Development

The GSM Association, one of the mobile industry’s biggest trade groups, says taxes on mobile phones are holding back economic development in some countries, and that eliminating them could boost penetration in developing countries by 10 to 20 percentage points. While we’re skeptical of the assertion that simply getting phones in peoples’ hands without attacking other root causes of poverty will solve all their economic problems, there are a growing number of examples of how people in poor countries are using mobile phones to enable commerce. Of course, it’s hard to believe the GSMA — which has been working with manufacturers to create ultra-low cost handsets for emerging markets — is being completely altruisic. Its study says that if these types of handsets were exempt from import duties and sales taxes, it expects nearly a billion of them would be sold in the 50 countries it looked at between 2006 and 2010.

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