Indian government puts forward a draft e-commerce policy

The Indian government has unveiled a draft of the e-commerce policy aimed at streamlining the digital economy and the rapidly growing e-commerce sector in India. One of the major recommendations made in the draft policy is related to competition and concentration. The draft policy recommends imposing restrictions on e-commerce marketplaces to not directly or indirectly influence the price of sale of goods and services. Moreover, marketplace companies are currently restricted from holding inventory, but those restrictions would no longer apply to Indian-controlled companies selling Indian products.  American giants Amazon and Walmart feel the draft ecommerce policy is heavily tilted against foreign firms and are likely to ask the United States government to reach out to Indian policymakers in case the final policy remains unchanged. Foreign e-commerce companies are especially wary of the proposed e-commerce regulator because they feel it will intervene in decision-making, slowing down business operations. They are worried that the final policy may “create uneven playing field”. The policy has been hailed by local players who say it is much-needed, as it places both domestic and international players at an equal level. Other issues are covered by the document, such as consumer protection and data localisation, as Indian users’ data would need to be stored exclusively in India.