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Sitharaman holds talks with states on FDI in e-commerce, retail

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Nirmala Sitharaman Spokesperson 11, Ashoka Road, New Delhi - 110001.

New Delhi: States will give their views within 15 days on the matter of opening up the e-commerce sector to FDI, it was decided after Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met states’ representatives here on Wednesday.

“Government of India invited states to discuss the issue of FDI in e-commerce in B2B and B2C and also bringing FDI in multibrand retail,” Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu told reporters after the meeting.

“But one consensus between the states and the centre was there that whatever decision is taken, it must be taken after good deliberation and after engagement with stakeholders at state levels and after assuring ourselves that the interest of the consumers, small retailers as well as SME sector are protected,” he said.

“All the states will give their views and comments on the matter within 15 days to the centre,” he added.

India currently allows 100 percent FDI in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce, but not in B2C companies selling directly to consumers.

Jammu and Kashmir Industries Minister Chander Prakash said: “We have to be careful while introducing (FDI) in e-commerce”.

“The FDI in e-commerce needs more debate and discussion. More meetings will be held on the issue. We will discuss the pros and cons in detail in our state. States ask for more time on the issue,” he said.

Some states, including Tamil Nadu, are opposed to FDI in retail and e-commerce.

With retail store operators going to court seeking parity between online and offline retailers, Sitharaman met representatives from both e-commerce and retail companies on Friday to discuss the issue.

A source in the department of industrial policy and promotion told IANS here that DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant told company representatives at the meeting that the sensitive issue required detailed consultations with all stakeholders.

Almost all stakeholders, including from the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry had been invited to Friday’s meeting.

“CAIT urged the government not to turn the Indian retail market into an e-commerce dumping yard by allowing FDI in e-commerce,” its secretary general Praveen Khandelwal told IANS.

The Retailers Association of India (RAI), representing large brick-and-mortar retail companies, moved the Delhi High Court in May seeking a level playing field between online and offline retailers. (IANS)

Next Story

E-Commerce Policy: Centre To Regulate Cross-Border Flow Of Data

Restrictions on cross-border flows of data would not apply to data which is not collected in India, business-to-business (B2B) data sent to India as part of a commercial contract between a business entity located outside India and an Indian business entity.

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E-commerce
"India's data should be used for the country's development. Indian citizens and companies should get the economic benefits from the monetisation of data," said the draft policy released by the Commerce Ministry's Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Pixabay

The Centre on Saturday released the draft e-commerce policy which proposes the regulation of cross-border flow of data collected by the sector players in India.

The draft policy is now in the public domain for comments and feedback from the stakeholders.

“India’s data should be used for the country’s development. Indian citizens and companies should get the economic benefits from the monetisation of data,” said the draft policy released by the Commerce Ministry’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

All the data collected by the e-tailers in India and stored abroad should not be made available to other business entities outside the country, for any purpose, even with the customer consent, it said.

E-commerce
The data stored abroad “shall not be made available to a third party, for any purpose, even if the customer consents to it; all such data stored abroad shall not be made available to a foreign government, without the prior permission of Indian authorities,” as per the policy. Pixabay

The data stored abroad “shall not be made available to a third party, for any purpose, even if the customer consents to it; all such data stored abroad shall not be made available to a foreign government, without the prior permission of Indian authorities,” as per the policy.

However, the draft policy provides the government the right to access the data of Indian consumers stored abroad.

“A request from Indian authorities to have access to all such data stored abroad, shall be complied with immediately.”

The government will also prescribe penal consequences if an online retailer violates the rules.

Restrictions on cross-border flows of data would not apply to data which is not collected in India, business-to-business (B2B) data sent to India as part of a commercial contract between a business entity located outside India and an Indian business entity.

Software and cloud computing services involving technology-related data flows, which have no personal or community implications; and multi-national companies moving data across borders, which is largely internal to the company and its ecosystem would not have to follow the regulations.

As per the policy, domestic industrial standards need to be formulated and facilitated for smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things) devices to meet the goals of the country including, consumer protection, secured transactions, enhanced interoperability and ease-of-user interface.

E-commerce
Restrictions on cross-border flows of data would not apply to data which is not collected in India, business-to-business (B2B) data sent to India as part of a commercial contract between a business entity located outside India and an Indian business entity. Pixabay

National standard-setting organisations will be involved in this exercise along with other stakeholders, it said.

Regarding the taxation part, it said that the current practice of not imposing custom duties on electronic transmissions must be reviewed in the light of the changing digital economy and the increased role that additive manufacturing is expected to take.

The FDI policy in e-commerce has been developed in order to ensure that the marketplace provides a level playing field to all participants, it said.

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“A situation of capital dumping is to be strongly discouraged.”

The new FDI norms, which prohibit the e-tailers from selling products of companies in which they have stakes, came into effect on February 1 despite both Amazon and Walmart seeking a six-month delay in their implementation. (IANS)