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Delay in roll-out of e-commerce policy, consumer protection rules damaging domestic retail trade: CAIT

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) sent a written communication in this regard to Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles

New Delhi: Traders’ body CAIT on Wednesday flagged the “inordinate delay” in the roll-out of a national e-commerce policy and consumer protection rules, saying the delay in their implementation has provided an opportunity to certain foreign e-commerce players to damage domestic retail trade.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) sent a written communication in this regard to Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal on Tuesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, the traders’ body expressed “utter dismay over inordinate delay in rolling out of e-commerce policy and rules under Consumer Protection Act” and equated it to a “slow poison situation” for the country’s business community.

In the letter to Goyal, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said the delay in the implementation “has caused irreparable loss to the small and medium retail traders and has resulted in deep loss of turnover in their business and thousands of retail traders have been forced to close down their businesses in addition to wreaking havoc in the lives of all those who are directly and indirectly dependent on India’s retail and e-commerce industry”.

He claimed that the traders are unwilling to get on board e-commerce platforms as they remain uncompetitive with the lack of level-playing field and certain foreign e-commerce players openly flouting norms.

The proposed national e-commerce policy being formulated by the commerce and industry ministry is in the final stages and no new draft policy will be issued now for seeking views of stakeholders, a senior government official said in August.

Earlier the ministry had issued two draft national e-commerce policies. The 2019 draft proposed to address six broad areas of the e-commerce ecosystem — data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating domestic digital economy and export promotion through e-commerce.

The draft had talked about a framework for restrictions on cross-border data flow; collection or processing of sensitive data locally and storing it abroad; measures to contain sale of counterfeit products, prohibited items and pirated content; and review of the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions in the light of the changing digital economy.

The e-commerce policy aims to prepare strategies for providing a conducive environment for inclusive and harmonious growth of the e-commerce sector through a streamlined regulatory framework for ease of doing business, adoption of modern technologies, integration of supply chains and enhancing exports through this medium.

The government is also in the process of framing consumer protection rules for the sector.

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