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Offline traders keen to sell online but demand e-commerce policy: CAIT

Jamshedpur, Oct 18: The e-commerce market in India which was estimated at 55 billion dollar in 2021 is expected to touch 120 billion dollar by 2026 and 350 billion dollar by 2030, is one of the fastest growing e-commerce market over the globe and the traders across the Country agreed that e-commerce is a potential mode of business activities in the future and if e-commerce policy and related rules in Consumer Protection Act are notified and implemented, the offline traders are keen to have their e-shop on e-commerce platform beside having business activities at their physical outlets- this fact revealed at a recent survey conducted by the CAIT Research & Trade Development Society, a research arm of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

The survey report also reveals that continued gross violation of FDI policy in Retail by the foreign e-commerce giants and adoption of various malpractices by them which has created an uneven level playing field and requirement of mandatory GST registration for conducting business on e-commerce portal are the major hurdles for the traders in adoption of e-commerce, as another stream of retail trade. The CRTDS survey was conducted in more than 40 cities of different states including tier 2 and tier 3 cities among more than five thousand traders and trade associations from 25th September to 3rd October,2022 through online mode.

CAIT National Secretary Suresh Sonthalia said that as per the survey 78% of the respondents opined that e-commerce is a potential mode of business for traders in India whereas 80% feel that mandatory GST registration for doing business on e-commerce is a big hurdle. 92% traders are of the view that big e-commerce companies are killing their business by their monopolistic terms and flaunting policies and laws. They further said that 94% of traders said that a regulatory authority for e-commerce is necessary to ensure robust growth of business of e-commerce for all whereas 92% of the traders feel that current FDI policy in retail need necessary amendments. About 72% of the respondents expressed concern over the delay in implementation of e-commerce policy and consumer rules for e-commerce.

Sonthalia said that although the offline trade is trying best to restore normalcy in trade post covid but it’s a fact that various foreign funded companies are operating their sinister designs in e-commerce and retail trade, under a well thought strategy to capture and monopolize every vertical of retail trade in a very clandestine manner beginning with goods & services, travel, tourism, logistics, cab services, food grains, grocery, mobiles, computer and its peripherals, readymade garments, gift items etc. It is astonishing that after incurring huge losses year on year, every foreign funded company is sustaining its business model purely because they are not doing business but have indulged into a valuation game which is highly detrimental to Indian economy and trade and causing adverse impact on businesses of small traders of the Country.

Suresh Sonthalia said that in comparison to offline retail, the e-commerce trade is completely free from all kinds of restrictions giving a free way to any person to trade anything without caring for any laws, which is a sorry state of affairs. Therefore, bringing e-commerce and retail trade at par, the Government is under obligation to make entire retail trade transparent and law compliant. No more leverage should be given to e-commerce companies and they should be made more transparent in their business dealings.

Both the trade leaders said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid much weight on adoption and acceptance of digital technology even at the last mile level but condition of having mandatory GST registration for selling on e-commerce is a major roadblock for the small traders having an yearly turnover below the threshold limit of Rs. 40 lakhs. This condition needs to be abolished in order to facilitate small traders to take advantage of e-commerce in widening their business. The CAIT will soon meet Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who is a staunch advocate for small businesses and Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, to thrash out GST issues pertaining to e-commerce and ways and means for speedy adoption of e-commerce by the business community of India.

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