India preparing to tackle Japan on proposed e-comm rules at G-20 meet

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on March 24, 2019 Published on March 24, 2019

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan. File photo   -  Reuters

If G-20 declaration in Osaka talks favourably about global norms , the pressure on India and other non-participating WTO members will increase to join negotiations

India is preparing its arguments against framing of global rules on e-commerce and digital economy that Japan would want to be included in the G-20 declaration in Osaka in June .

“Japan has already indicated its intention to push for framing of global rules on e-commerce. Since it is the chair of the G-20, it is likely that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will try hard to ensure that the declaration adopted at the end of the meet articulates the intention of all members to work towards a multilateral agreement on e-commerce,” a government official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi cannot allow e-commerce to be part of the G-20 declaration as it has been fighting hard to keep it off the negotiating table at the World Trade Organization. Although the announcement on launch of plurilateral talks on e-commerce between 75 countries was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, India decided not to be even an observer at the talks.

In his speech at Davos, Abe had said that the G-20 meet in his country would seek to rebuild trust towards the system of global trade and would focus on areas such as e-commerce and intellectual property.

“If the G-20 declaration in Osaka talks favourably about global rules on e-commerce, the pressure on India and other non-participating members of the WTO will increase to include themselves in the negotiations. This is how the developed world behaves. It raises and makes a point about an issue at the G-20 and later tries to get it accepted at the WTO,” the official said.

Indiahas a clear and unwavering stand on the matter. At a meeting on e-commerce last October at the WTO, India’s representative reportedly stated that developing countries cannot take on global commitments as they needed policy space in areas such as ownership and use and flow of data in sunrise sectors like cloud computing and data storage.

The Centre has floated a draft e-commerce policy which has not gone down well with foreign players such as Amazon and Walmart as it puts a number of restrictions on their operations. It has suggested that all e-commerce websites should have a registered business entity in India and all product shipments from overseas must be channelised through the customs. It is also categorical that FDI should be encouraged only in the marketplace model.

India’s e-commerce market, currently valued at about $ 27 billion, is one of the fastest growing in the world.

Published on March 24, 2019
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