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Government’s Ecommerce Policy May Not Be Ready Before Deadline

Government’s Ecommerce Policy May Not Be Ready Before Deadline

The revamped ecommerce policy was supposed to be released by end of 2019

The delay was hinted by a commerce ministry source according to a media report

The policy aims to clear regulatory issues for Amazon, Flipkart, Uber, Ola and others

India’s ecommerce policy, which was originally slated for a release by the end of 2019, may not see the light of the day before the deadline, as reported by the Business Standard. The revamped ecommerce policy, which has been in the works since earlier this year, was meant to clear up regulatory issues for Amazon, Flipkart, Uber, Ola and other internet-based service providers.

According to the media report, discussions over the broad contours of the policy were on, but the final document will be out only after other technology policies are mandated. The reason stated for the same was that the commerce ministry was trying to avoid overlaps and contradictions. “We have had several rounds of discussions and we have in place a broad outlook of how the policy will be,” said a commerce ministry source, as quoted in the report.

The policy was meant to include regulation related to companies such as Amazon, Uber, Ola and Flipkart and clarify foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in this sector, which were updated earlier this year. A committee had also been formed under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to formalise the guidelines.

Ecommerce Policy Protecting Smaller Retailers?

Meanwhile, the US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, while speaking on day one of the ongoing India Economic Summit in Delhi, said that India needs to bring in more balance in its ecommerce policy and consider the timing of the changes in regulations. In response to the same, minister of commerce and industry, Piyush Goyal, said, “We have a very predictable and stable policy framework.”

The union minister said that the government has to be very clear on creating ecommerce regulation to protect smaller retailers. “India has 120 Mn – 130 Mn citizens depending on small retail, from about 50Mn – 60 Mn small retail shops. Effectively, small retail affects the livelihoods of about half the Indian population when one considers the families impacted,” he added. However, he didn’t comment anything on the when the policy would be released.

Last year, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) had said that new ecommerce rules were regressive and could potentially harm the consumers. In February, the government released a draft national policy for ecommerce policies, which it had to review following criticism.

In June 2019, the Indian government had reiterated its commitment to protecting small traders from predatory discounting and pricing behaviour by foreign-funded companies. The warning was issued in a closed-door meeting between Goyal and ecommerce marketplaces. Amazon, in particular, had to take some brands off its India website in the aftermath of the new rules.  The draft also suggested setting up of a body of industry stakeholders who would be responsible for identifying websites that allowed sharing of pirated content.