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National e-commerce policy under consideration: Piyush Goyal

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Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industry Minister said that, no date has been fixed for the release of the national e-commerce policy as it is still under consideration but there is no timeline as to when it will be released, the government said on Wednesday.

The draft policy seeks to create a facilitative regulatory environment for growth of the e-commerce sector, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, which was earlier set to be released by end of 2019.

“Since e-commerce is a new issue, it has necessitated detailed consultations over the last few months to ensure that the policy is crafted in a manner that interests of all stakeholders are taken into account,” Goyal said in his written reply.

The MeitY, DPIIT and the consumer affairs ministry have been working on framing rules to regulate e-commerce companies. The national policy is still stuck at the discussion level. The is not the first time policy is facing a delay.

Goyal also said the formulation of the new industrial policy is under consideration of the government. He said with regard to the new industrial policy, a Working Group has been constituted with representation from central ministries/departments, state governments, and industry associations.

Last February, the government had made available the first draft of the ‘National e-Commerce Policy– India’s Data for India’s Development’ for suggestions from the public. Comments from over 120 stakeholders including Indian and foreign companies, industry associations, think tanks and foreign governments, were received.

The draft addressed mainly six issues of the e-commerce ecosystem – data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating domestic digital economy and export promotion through e-commerce.

US retail marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart had to tweak their business strategies in India. Both the firms had also raised concern over data localisation rule. The US govt including the US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross had asked India to bring in more balance in its e-commerce policy and ease the data-localisation law.

Though the small traders have time and again raised issue concerned over predatory discounting and pricing behaviour by Amazon and Flipkart in the absence of robust e-commerce policy. However, the analysts observing the e-commerce space said that the delay in national policy will only benefit the big players, who are in questions over alleged anti-competitive behaviours.

The Confederation of All India Traders was disappointed by the minister’s statement. This is unfortunate that the timeline has not been fixed. India needs to have national e-commerce policy regulating loopholes and creating a level playing field for retailers as soon as possible.

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