India’s e-commerce policy regressive! Walmart had told US back in January

by Apparel Resources News-Desk

12-July-2019  |  3 mins read

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India’s e-commerce rules are regressive!

Back in January 2019, Walmart had told the US Government privately that the new investment policies for e-commerce introduced by India were regressive and had the potential to hurt trade ties, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The lobbying effort yielded no result but the document underlines the level of concern at Walmart about the norms. Besides, the differences over e-commerce regulations have become one of the biggest issues in frayed ties between India and the US.

In an e-mail sent to Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on 7 January, Sarah Thorn, Senior Director for Global Government Affairs, Walmart, said  “It came as a total surprise! This is a major change and a regressive policy shift.”

It was only few months before, Walmart had invested US $ 16 billion in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, in what turned out to be its biggest global acquisition ever.

In the letter sent to the USTR in January, Walmart had said that it had called for a six-month delay in the implementation of the rules, which could not happen.

“Walmart regularly offers input to the US and Indian Governments on policy issues related to the retail sector. This is, however, a past issue and Walmart and Flipkart are looking ahead; we continue to be committed to complying with this and all other Indian laws and regulations. Walmart has had good consultations with the Government of India, including recent consultations with the Ministry of Commerce, and we appreciate the efforts they are taking to create a strong business environment and its clear commitment to consult with stakeholders on important policy issues. We look forward to further contributing to a vibrant retail ecosystem that supports India’s inclusive economic growth and is consistent with our long-term commitment to India,” a Walmart Inc. spokesperson said.

E-commerce is likely to be again on the agenda today (12 July) when a USTR delegation meets Indian trade officials in New Delhi.

The new rules barred firms from selling products via companies in which they have an equity interest and also from making deals with sellers to sell exclusively on their platforms.

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