National E-Commerce Policy Reaches Culmination Stage as Stakeholders Find Common Ground

The formulation of the new e-commerce policy falls under the purview of the commerce ministry, and recent discussions with industry representatives have led to a consensus among stakeholders.

Srajan Girdonia
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In a significant development, the proposed national e-commerce policy is edging closer to completion, with a senior government official confirming that the policy has entered its final stages. The official further clarified that there will be no issuance of new draft policies to solicit stakeholder opinions at this juncture. The formulation of the new e-commerce policy falls under the purview of the commerce ministry, and recent discussions with industry representatives have led to a consensus among stakeholders regarding the proposed policy.

Consensus Reached Among Stakeholders

After an in-depth deliberation held on August 2, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) engaged in a comprehensive dialogue with representatives from various e-commerce firms and a domestic traders' association. 

As a result of these discussions, a consensus emerged among the concerned stakeholders, marking a significant milestone in the policy formulation process. The senior government official indicated that the phase of seeking additional drafts or inputs from stakeholders has concluded, and the policy is now undergoing its final review.

Data Localization and Compliance

Addressing concerns about data localisation, the official emphasized that e-commerce companies would be required to adhere to the legal regulations established by the country. This stance underscores the government's commitment to ensuring that data handling practices within the e-commerce sector align with prevailing laws and regulations.

Previous Drafts and Policy Objectives

The proposed national e-commerce policy has been a subject of meticulous consideration, with previous drafts being released for public review. The 2019 draft policy was notable for its focus on several key facets of the e-commerce ecosystem, including data management, infrastructure development, regulatory matters, boosting the domestic digital economy, and facilitating export through e-commerce channels. 

This draft encompassed provisions related to cross-border data flow restrictions, handling sensitive data domestically, curbing the sale of counterfeit products and unauthorized content, and reevaluating customs duties on electronic transmissions in light of the evolving digital landscape.

Comprehensive Stakeholder Inclusion

The envisioned e-commerce policy aims to address the diverse interests of stakeholders across the e-commerce spectrum, ranging from investors and manufacturers to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), traders, startups, retailers, and consumers. By incorporating input from these varied participants, the policy seeks to create an environment conducive to holistic and balanced growth in the e-commerce sector.

Consumer Protection and Investment Norms

In tandem with crafting the e-commerce policy, the government is concurrently developing consumer protection regulations tailored to the sector. These measures aim to ensure the welfare and rights of consumers engaging in online transactions. Moreover, the policy clarifies the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms governing e-commerce, permitting FDI in the marketplace model while refraining from allowing it in the inventory-based model.

The forthcoming national e-commerce policy holds the promise of propelling the sector to new heights by fostering a supportive ecosystem characterized by streamlined regulatory frameworks, technology integration, supply chain optimization, and increased export opportunities. 

The policy's overarching goal is to create an environment that nurtures the growth of e-commerce inclusively and harmoniously, providing impetus to both established players and emerging startups.

With the proposed national e-commerce policy inching closer to finalization and consensus achieved among stakeholders, the Indian e-commerce landscape stands poised for transformation. The policy's comprehensive approach, which incorporates the perspectives of a wide array of stakeholders, signals the government's commitment to fostering a dynamic and resilient e-commerce sector that adheres to regulatory standards while promoting growth and innovation.