Foreign Companies Want A Voice In India’s E-Commerce Policy

While the government has decided to drop the first draft of e-commerce policy and set up a committee of secretaries to decide on a new set of recommendations, the second draft was expected to come out in September 2018. Amid such discussions, foreign companies have now approached the government to be consulted by the committee for the policy.

During the initial round of discussions, the government had earlier invited ecommerce and Internet companies with Indian-led promoters to be part of the task force that deliberated on the draft policy released in July and kept the foreign players out.

However, now, the industry bodies such as US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) have reportedly sent formal representations to the ministry of commerce and industry to be included in the drafting of the ecommerce bill.

It is to be noted that the new committee of secretaries held its first meeting last week. Chaired by secretary Ramesh Abhishek of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the committee includes members from the ministry of electronics and information technology, the department of commerce, representatives of Niti Aayog, and the department of economic affairs, among others.

The committee is open to feedback and comments from all companies including foreign ones.

USISPF chief executive Mukesh Aghi said that e-commerce companies that were global or funded by foreign institutional capital were central to the growth of the sector.

“Despite their large contribution of more than USD 10 billion to the growth of India’s ecommerce sector, the government has not involved some key companies in the formal process of drafting the policy,” said Aghi.

USISPF has reached out to the ministry of commerce to be formally included in drafting the ecommerce bill in India and to contribute as a thoughtful participant in the process.

After being represented by NASSCOM in the earlier discussions, the industry wants a deeper engagement this time.

Nisha Biswal, president of US-India Business Council, said the body was willing to work with the Indian government to find solutions to the government’s concerns without imposing unnecessary and burdensome regulations.

“We are concerned that recent draft policies under discussion would call for forced localization and other measures that restrict data flows. These policies, if adopted, will neither enhance privacy nor security, and will ultimately reduce trade, investment, and technology exchange between our nations,” said Biswal.


Earlier, Indian traders’ body CAIT wrote to the Ministry of Commerce saying that the fundamentals of the proposed draft ecommerce policy should not be diluted. Niti Aayog chief Amitabh Kant said that the ecommerce policy should focus on major issues instead of minor ones like discounts.

As Inc42 highlighted in a recent analysis, the draft e-commerce bill makes several random proposals such as making the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI)’s RuPay card (a domestic solution/alternate to Visa and Mastercard) mandatory for payments gateways.

Other issues include the creation of a government-aided ecommerce platform to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), ecommerce marketplaces will no longer be allowed to offer deep discounts through their in-house companies listed as sellers, granting preferential treatment and imposing customs duties on etransmission to digital items created in India among others.

It is time, the Indian ecommerce stakeholders resolve the debate surrounding Indian ecommerce and reach to a concrete set of guidelines in line with the interests of both the local and the global communities looking to leverage this opportunity in the country.— INC 42

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