February 10, 2021 3:28:24 am
THE government is currently investigating some online platforms, following complaints from consumers and small retailers of potential violations to its e-commerce policy, said Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Tuesday. The Ministry is also considering “certain clarifications” to its e-commerce rules to ensure that firms work “in the true spirit of the law”, he added.
“There is no change in the e-commerce policy per se. (The) e-commerce policy is very robust, well-designed and operating in India in several sectors,” said Goyal during a virtual media briefing in response to a question on whether the ministry was revisiting its current FDI policy for e-commerce.
“However, there are certain complaints from consumers and from small retailers about certain practices of the e-commerce companies which are under investigation. We have sought for several informations; they are being looked into,” he said.
“We are also considering certain clarifications to ensure that the e-commerce sector works in the true spirit of the law, of the rules that have been laid out for e-commerce,” he added.
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The Minister reiterated his stance on e-commerce, saying it is supposed to provide an agnostic platform that provides “all the data” required for buyers and sellers to trade with each other and for consumers to make a rational choice. E-commerce platforms should not become a part of the trading transaction, he said, adding that they should not engage in activities like promoting their own products and maintaining algorithms to give preference to one seller over another.
In response to a query by The Indian Express on how the change in administration in the US impacted India’s long-awaited mini trade pact with the country, the minister said that more clarity would emerge after a new US Trade Representative was appointed. “Once the new US Trade Representative is in office, we will start a dialogue with them to look at how we can expand our business and our international engagement with them, both through market access (and) tariffs. There are different ways in which we can look at expanding our trade relationship,” said Goyal.
“We’ll have to wait for the new USTR to come in, and we’ll have to hear from the new administration what is in their mind. We also have certain thoughts about it. It’s only after we have engaged with the new administration that we can comment on that (the mini trade pact),” he added.
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