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Need for a national e-commerce policy: Commerce Secretary

Mar 14, 2018

Must peg growth aspirations realistically as the current growth is on a low base


NEW DELHI, 14 March 2018: Commerce Secretary Ms. Rita Teaotia today called for an over-arching national e-commerce policy to tap the huge opportunities in this segment.

Speaking at a workshop on 'Going global through E-commerce Marketplace for B2C Product Manufacturers, Exporters, Retailers and Online Sellers', organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Amazon, Ms. Teaotia said while the B2C commerce transactions in India were growing rapidly at a CAGR of 34%, there was a need for pegging aspirations realistically as the growth had taken place on a low base.

The Commerce Secretary said that the country was not entirely ready to tap the opportunities offered by e-commerce and there was a crying need to ensure that various arms of the government - Department of IT, Finance and Department of Posts etc. - were on the same page to capitalise on the business prospects offered by the digital space.

The other challenges listed out by her included financial penetration and inclusion, infrastructure for delivery of products and unstable supply of power. These, she said, would have to be tackled upfront before the e-commerce players are able to reach out to an aspirational population, including the rural populace.

Mr. Ram Mohan Mishra, Additional Secretary & Development Commissioner, Ministry of MSME, in his address, said that for sustainable growth of the sector, it was important to ensure inclusivity and sensitivity to those unable to keep pace with the surge in technology. He said that there was no choice but to tackle the challenges of logistics, capacity and institutional lacunae. The thrust, therefore, of the MSME Ministry was to empower MSMEs to face the market challenges.

Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, President, FICCI-Confederation of MSMEs said that the number of digital buyers worldwide is expected to grow to 2.07 billion in 2019 from 1.3 billion in 2014. E-commerce shopping is a thriving market, with people increasingly choosing this option to order products and services at their convenience. Global e-commerce transactions in 2016 were USD 1.9 trillion accounting for 8.7 per cent of the total retail spending worldwide. This is expected to grow to above USD 4 trillion by 2020, making up to nearly 15 per cent of the total retail spending. FICCI-CMSME has partnered with Amazon to create awareness about the potential.

Mr. Gopal Pillai, Director & General Manager, Seller Services, Amazon India, pointed out that through the workshop, FICCI and Amazon sought to educate exporters and manufacturers on B2C exports via the e-commerce route and enable them to sell across 10 international marketplaces through Amazon Global Selling. Such workshops are being held across the country to help manufacturers and potential exporters in understanding the procedures and requirements related to areas such as logistics, taxation, cataloging. These workshops will guide them through the entire process of exporting through the e-commerce route. The exporters and manufacturers would also be educated on the digital business opportunity, brand building, documentation and listing methodology.

Ms. Archana Garodia Gupta, Chairperson, FICCI MSME Committee, underscored the importance of tapping the potential of the e-commerce market, which she described as leap-frog technology.  India, she said, was well positioned in this regard as it had a great tradition of entrepreneurship. She flagged the issue of return of products sold globally, currently at 20% of total sales overseas, as these attracted import duties, thereby increasing the financial burden on the manufacturers.

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