Piyush Goyal seeks reciprocity from trade partners on FDI, data, ecommerce


NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal has said the government will engage with its trade partners on issues of foreign direct investment (FDI), ecommerce and data on a reciprocal basis, as it plans to bring out a national policy on ecommerce in the next 12 months.

“The minister said India wants to engage with the world in FDI, data and ecommerce but there has to be reciprocity,” said an official who attended a meeting that Goyal had with around 25 ecommerce firms including Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip and Zomato on Monday.

However, he emphasised that the government will ensure that small retailers thrive and those e-commerce companies would be promoted, who on their part promote Indian artisans.


Goyal’s statement assumes significance with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visiting India for talks in which critical issues such as India’s proposed data localisation norms in the draft ecommerce policy are likely to be discussed. Pompeo’s visit also comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan for the G20 Summit in Osaka later this week.

“We will put in place an institutional framework to bring out a national ecommerce policy within next 12 months,” the official said.

“We appreciate the initiative of commerce minister Mr Piyush Goyal to engage in a candid, positive and progressive discussion aimed at creating a vibrant ecommerce market and Digital India,” K Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart Group, said.


Monday’s meeting largely revolved around interpretation of Press Note 2 by ecommerce marketplaces. The minister said PN2 was a clarification and not a change to the existing law. “Companies who participated agreed with this. They confirmed unequivocally that the Press Note 2 of 2018 on FDI in ecommerce was only a clarification and did not change the provisions in the FDI policy,” said an official who attended the meeting.

Amazon and Flipkart, the most impacted by the tighter rules, had sought an extension of the February 1 deadline, which the government refused. While the firms were initially impacted, when questioned by shareholders, they said it lasted barely a week.

“The minister was point blank in stating that he believed companies were not following Press Note 2 and asked them to follow the law not just on paper but also in spirit. He added that ecommerce growth cannot come at the expense of MSMEs and kirana stores,” said a company executive.

Another meeting on the same lines is likely to be held in a month. The department is also likely to come out with the draft national retail policy in the next fortnight to seek comments from the trader community.

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