Government may issue clarification on e-commerce sector: Piyush Goyal – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/govt-considering-certain-clarifications-on-fdi-in-e-commerce-sector-piyush-goyal/articleshow/80771632.cms?utm_source=ETTopNews&utm_medium=HPTN&utm_campaign=AL1&utm_content=23Synopsis

Separately, the minister also said that India is waiting for the confirmation of the new United States Trade Representative before starting a dialogue to expand trade relationship.

New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said the government is considering some clarifications to ensure that the e-commerce companies work in the true spirit of the rules and consumers have a free choice but said that there is no change in the foreign direct investment (FDI) rules per se.

Separately, the minister also said that India is waiting for the confirmation of the new United States Trade Representative before starting a dialogue to expand trade relationship.

The minister also said that India’s minimum support price (MSP) operations are completely compliant with the global trade rules and the country has a peace clause in case the permitted procurement amount gets exceeded.
On the e-commerce sector, Goyal said the current FDI policy is robust and well-designed. However, there are certain complaints from consumers and small retailers about certain practices of the e-commerce companies, which are under investigation.

“We have sought for several information. They’re being looked into. We’re also considering certain clarifications to ensure that the e-commerce sector works in the true spirit of the rules that have been laid down,” he said at a press conference.

His statement assumes significance in the wake of the Confederation of All India Traders forwarding the details of alleged violations by Amazon and Flipkart to the Enforcement Directorate and the Reserve Bank of India for “necessary action” citing violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and FDI rules.

The minister said that e-commerce is supposed to provide an agnostic platform so that buyers and sellers can trade with each other and the platform should not become a part of the trading transaction, not fund it nor have algorithms which give preference to some. The platform should not promote their own products but the buyers and sellers should be given an opportunity to trade with one another and provide all data that is required for a “rational choice and that choice should be a free choice of the consumer”.

“The platform only is a service provider and those who break that law will certainly have to our respond to our concerns and correct their business practices at the earliest,” he said.

On further easing of the country’s FDI policy, the minister said that only the multi-brand retail sector is there but no change in planned for that.

Bilateral trade, exports
On India-US mini trade deal, Goyal said New Delhi will start a dialogue to expand trade relationships once the new USTR is confirmed.

“Only after engaging with the new one (USTR), will we comment,” he said.

Goyal recently had a high level dialogue with the EU wherein the two sides discussed reinitiating talks on the trade and investment agreements with an interim pact to start with.

India is also reviewing its existing trade agreements with South Korea, Japan and ASEAN. Goyal said the review of the pact with Korea is underway while scoping papers have been made for review of the pacts with Japan and ASEAN.

Overall, he said India’s export growth is in the backdrop of many countries being in lockdown.

For the second consecutive month, the country’s exports recorded a growth and rose 5.37% year-on-year to $27.24 billion in January 2021, driven by a healthy growth in pharmaceuticals and engineering sectors.

Goyal said the government is preparing a framework for the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme based on the recommendations of the GK Pillai committee on the rates and product lines.

The minister also said that 500 tariff codes (called HSN codes in trade parlance) have standards but said every industry should have standards so that only good quality products are traded.

MSP, TRIPS waiver
Goyal said India’s MSP operations are completely compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Our MSP operations are WTO compliant. They’re within the 10% de minimis that we are allowed by way of agricultural subsidies,” said commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan.

Wadhawan said that if India exceeds the de minimis, it has a peace clause to safeguard its interests.

Stating that India’s subsidies are within our WTO limits and developing countries’ subsidies are moderate compared to what the developed world gives, Wadhawan said: “Of course subsidies cause distortions but the distortions caused by developing countries are of a minimum quantum compared to what the West does.”

On India-South Africa joint proposal to the WTO on a temporary waiver of certain global IPR rules to ensure free flow of vaccines to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Goyal said almost a hundred countries have supported the proposal and only a few developed countries are opposing it.

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