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Indian Government seeking to develop national policy on e-commerce

Indian Government seeking to develop national policy on e-commerce

The Indian Government is seeking to
develop
a comprehensive and overarching national policy on e-commerce. The Government’s
Department of Commerce has set up a think tank for development of a Framework for
National Policy on E-commerce.

In March, the Economic Times reported
that the Indian Government is considering a national e-commerce policy and a
consolidated legal framework. At the moment, there are multiple government
agencies dealing with different aspects of e-commerce, such as IT, industrial
policy, revenue, payments etc.

India’s e-commerce sector is growing rapidly, with online
retail projected
to grow
to $200 billion by 2026 from $15 billion in 2016. But challenges remain
due to poor Internet penetration, inefficient delivery infrastructure in rural
areas and financial inclusion issues. India was ranked 83rd in the UNCTAD
(United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) B2C (Business‐to‐Consumer) E‐commerce Index, 2017,
which evaluates the processes involved in an online shopping B2C transaction.

The Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Mr
Suresh Prabhu, will chair the first meeting of the think tank to be held on 24
April 2018. Senior officers of the ministries/ departments of the Government of
India involved in different aspects of e-commerce; high level representatives
from the industry bodies, e-commerce companies, telecommunication companies and
IT companies; Reserve Bank of India; and independent experts have been invited
to participate in the meeting. Representatives of almost fifty organisations
are expected to participate.

The think tank is expected to provide a credible forum for
an inclusive and fact-based dialogue leading to recommendations for informed
policy making. The objective is to prepare the country to take advantage of the
opportunities, and address the challenges, that would arise from the next wave
of advancements in digital economy.

The issues that will be discussed by the think tank include
the following aspects of e-commerce and digital economy: physical and digital
infrastructure, regulatory regime, taxation policy, data flows, server
localisation, intellectual property rights protection, FDI (foreign direct
investment), technology flows, responding to disruptions in industrial
organisation, need for skill development and trade-related aspects.

Developments on e-commerce at the WTO (World Trade Organisation)
and evolving appropriate national position on the underlying issues, would be
another important dimension of the discussions of the think tank.

In addition, the think tank will explore options for
providing a boost to entrepreneurship in the digital economy. It will identify
specific policy interventions for nurturing domestic firms and creating jobs in
e-commerce.