Wednesday 5 June 2019

India to oppose global rules on e-commerce at G-20 Meet

India to oppose global rules on e-commerce at G-20 Meet
India will maintain its stance of not being part of the e-commerce negotiations to frame global rules on digital trade at the upcoming meeting of the G-20 countries on June 8-9 in Japan.

India has opposed global rules on e-commerce and the plurilateral discussions among 77 countries, arguing that these discussions are not consistent with the mandate of the multilateral trading system and strike at its roots.

G-20 would be Piyush Goyal’s first international engagement as commerce and industry minister. “We have opposed e-commerce and digital trade till now and will maintain that stance at the G20 meet,” said one official aware of the details.

While South Africa is the only country besides India to have opposed e-commerce talks, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have raised concerns at the negotiations.

“Japan is the G20 chair and has strongly favoured talks on digital trade,” said another official. Both India and South Africa have questioned the current practice of not imposing customs duty on electronic transmissions citing revenue loss to the developing countries.

India’s potential loss of revenue by not taxing electronic transmissions is around $500 million every year, a research paper by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said.

Bilateral meetings

As per the first official quoted earlier, many bilateral meetings are planned at the sidelines of the G20 but meeting with the US is yet to be decided. “We will see who attends the meeting from the US, to see if we can have a bilateral with them,” the official added.

Last week, the US terminated preferential tariffs to $5.6 billion of Indian exports after determining that New Delhi has not committed to provide “equitable and reasonable access to its markets”.

American e-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart have opposed India's e-commerce norms that ban companies with foreign investment from selling products via firms in which they have an equity interest and also prevent them from making deals with sellers to sell exclusively on their platforms. They can only function as marketplaces.

Besides, the US has also criticised India's data localisation norms and draft e-commerce policy terming certain proposals as "most discriminatory and trade-distortive". It had said that India lacks infrastructure to be able to save its companies' data while India has asserted that it has the sovereign right over the data generated in the country.

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