Commerce Minister consults Traders and MSME bodies on e-commerce

New Delhi, June 19: Amidst the rising heat on e-commerce policy, Commerce Minister Pyush Goyal met the trade and MSME body representatives to hear their concerns first hand.

The Minister had held a similar meeting with e-commerce players earlier this week.

While the traders and retailers complained of deep discounting and predatory pricing employed by e-commerce platforms , the MSMEs raised the red flag about inherent conflict of interest where e-commerce platforms themselves get into retailing and compete with MSME suppliers on same platform.

“SMEs have a very uneven relationship with platforms which are at least today global oligopolies. As they have all the data of transactions and buying behaviour, they develop their own Private labels and push to displace a small supplier”, says Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, FISME.

Even if some of their behaviour falls into anti-competitive practices and is in domain of Competition Commission, individually MSMEs neither have capacity nor resources to file cases in CCI, he added.

While not in favour of a restrictive regulatory environment for e-commerce, FISME is learnt to have suggested to institute a Standing Committee or some kind of a watch dog to constantly monitor such anti-competitive practices by large e-commerce players as it is an evolving area and new issues are emerging every other day. Alternatively, Government could consider setting up an e-commerce regulator.

FISME also emphasized the need for a comprehensive policy for exporting through Courier or Small shipments.

‘Strange as it may sound, it is far more easy to import than export through small consignment. There are serious bottlenecks in refund of GST, returns of merchandise, absence of adequate infrastructure to handle large volume of small consignments and of course problems arising because of rigid rules of payments’, Bhardwaj mentioned.

FISME also raised the issue of absence of an Indian B2B platform connecting MSMEs to foreign markets with required support services needed to exports from point to point as Alibaba did for Chinese SMEs.

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