E-commerce companies demand more ease of doing business

Even as the government on Friday grappled with issues including defining what constitutes wholesale and retail trade in the context of permitting foreign investment in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-tailing, e-commerce companies in a meeting with the industry department demanded greater ease of doing business and urged the Centre to bring out more clarity on tax issues hampering their business.
Meanwhile, in the stakeholders meeting convened by industry secretary Amitabh Kant, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said e-commerce has become a tool for converting India into a dumping ground, adding that dumping of cheap goods — even below the actual price of the manufacturer — happens when prices are artificially lowered by accessing funds from overseas sources.
“E-tailers are openly circumventing the norms and indulging in B2C model which is creating an uneven level playing,” CAIT said in a statement.
Among those who attended the meeting included representatives from CAIT, Retailers Association of India, CII, FICCI, eBay, Flipkart, Amazon, US-India Business Council, Walmart, Homeshop18, Pahle India Foundation, Ikea, H&M, and the Internet and Mobile Association of India. Earlier in the day, Kant met representatives from banks on the issue.
Currently, India allows 100% FDI in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce activities (as in wholesale trade), but foreign investment is not allowed in B2C (retail) e-commerce. The Modi government, which retained the UPA government-approved policy in multibrand retail trade (allowing 51% foreign investment) on paper, has been citing the BJP manifesto and voicing its opposition to foreign investment in multi-brand retail mostly to pacify the traders who are a major vote bank for the BJP.
“Before giving any shape to FDI policy in e-commerce/retail, an impact assessment on various stakeholders has to be made in great detail. We have opposed entry of FDI in any segment of retail and urged the government to frame a national trade policy for retail trade to provide better business opportunities to Indian retail sector,” CAIT said.

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