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E-commerce policy proposing additional restrictions on FDI

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In a meeting with officials of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) on Friday, industry representatives urged the government not to bring about frequent changes in the policy framework for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in e-commerce to ensure stability in terms of investment outlook, sources said.

The Centre, which is holding a series of stakeholder consultations on the existing FDI policy for e-commerce and its possible tightening to close ‘loopholes’, is scheduled to next meet e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart on March 25. During the meeting, the companies will get the opportunity to put forward their views on the matter, an official told BusinessLine.

“It is important to get the views of all stakeholders on the sensitive matter on FDI rules for e-commerce. The government wants to take a decision weighing all pros and cons,” the official said.

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Following complaints from certain sections of the industry including traders’ body CAIT, the DPIIT is looking into whether e-commerce companies with FDI such as Amazon and Flipkart are flouting existing rules which allow them to operate only as a marketplace and not sell their own products through their online platforms.

CAIT participated in the first stakeholder meeting that DPIIT held with retailers and traders on March 17 where it underlined that companies and affiliates of foreign marketplace entities should not be allowed to sell their products on the marketplace platform, directly or indirectly, owned and/or controlled by the marketplace entity.

The meeting held by DPIIT officials on Friday was attended by various industry chambers and bodies such as CII, FICCI, PHDCCI, Nasscom, IAMAI and Assocham. Representatives of the industry bodies are learnt to have highlighted the role of the e-commerce industry in job creation, easier market access for MSMEs and efficiencies in the supply chain ecosystem. Some industry representatives also urged government officials to not bring in frequent changes in the policy framework to ensure stability in terms of the investment outlook, sources added.

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A meeting with representatives of various Ministries and Departments that have an interest in e-commerce policy including consumer affairs, food processing, commerce, is also likely next week.

In an inter-ministerial meeting convened by the DPIIT on March 13, a draft e-commerce policy proposing additional restrictions on FDI in e-commerce to check existing loopholes was reportedly discussed.

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