The commerce and industry ministry is in favour of allowing 100 per cent FDI in the e-commerce sector and a decision on liberalising the sector may be announced after the approval of the Election Commission, which has declared general elections beginning April 7.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told The Indian Express at the Idea Exchange session on Thursday that he is “in favour of FDI (in e-commerce)”.
He, however, refrained from putting a cap on the extent of foreign direct investment (FDI) that may be allowed.
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Earlier, the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) had floated a discussion paper on the subject, detailing the merits and demerits of allowing the FDI in the sector.
The paper had given both the options of allowing 51 per cent and 100 per cent FDI in the sector, urging the stakeholders to give their comments by January end.
A senior official said that the DIPP is in favour of allowing 100 per cent FDI in the sector.
After the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha election, model code of conduct has come into place, which bars the caretaker government to refrain from taking any policy decision which may disturb the level-playing field.
Currently, 100 per cent FDI in business-to-business e-commerce is allowed and the industry and department are looking at relaxing business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce.
Further, on the FDI in multi-brand retail, Sharma added that his ministry is examining a second proposal in the sector, after Tesco’s entry in the country.
“After Tesco, we expect a second proposal to go through. Officials are managing the queries that have come in,” the minister added. UK-based Tesco is the only company to have entered the sector with an investment of $110 million, more than one year after the government allowed 51 per cent FDI in the sector in September 2012.
According to the official, two foreign retailers — Carrefour and Aeon — have expressed interest in setting shops in the country with Indian partners. The official added that these two companies are scouting for partners in the country.
French-multinational retailer Carrefour is understood to be in talks with Bharti enterprises, which broke up with US-based Walmart last year, to enter the Indian multi-brand retail space.
Carrefour has been present in India since 2010 in wholesale cash and carry segment and has five stores across the country.