The draft National E-Commerce Policy (“Draft Policy”) released by the Government of India on February 23, 2019 for stakeholder comments, has left the e-commerce sector in jitters. For global market players, the protectionist construct of the Draft Policy seems to suggest a shift of India’s focus from ‘Ease of Doing Business in India’ to ‘Make in India’. If the Draft Policy is implemented in its present form, it may have a serious impact demanding drastic change in internal strategies, policies and cost allocations for foreign companies having e-commercial presence in India. The Draft Policy is open for stakeholder comments up to March 9, 2019.
The Draft Policy focuses on: (i) restriction on cross-border flow of data; (ii) local presence and taxability of foreign entities having significant economic presence in India; (iii) creating a robust digital infrastructure for e-commerce, from online custom clearance to online resolution of consumer complaints; (iv) promoting exports from India with a boost to start-ups and small firms; and (v) regulatory changes to augment economic growth in e-commerce.
The key highlights of the Draft Policy are as follows: