Sitharaman holds talks with states on FDI in e-commerce, retail

New Delhi,  (IANS) States will give their views within 15 days on the matter of opening up the e-commerce sector to FDI, it was decided after Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met states’ representatives here on Wednesday.

“Government of India invited states to discuss the issue of FDI in e-commerce in B2B and B2C and also bringing FDI in multibrand retail,” Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu told reporters after the meeting.

“But one consensus between the states and the centre was there that whatever decision is taken, it must be taken after good deliberation and after engagement with stakeholders at state levels and after assuring ourselves that the interest of the consumers, small retailers as well as SME sector are protected,” he said.

“All the states will give their views and comments on the matter within 15 days to the centre,” he added.

India currently allows 100 percent FDI in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce, but not in B2C companies selling directly to consumers.

Jammu and Kashmir Industries Minister Chander Prakash said: “We have to be careful while introducing (FDI) in e-commerce”.

“The FDI in e-commerce needs more debate and discussion. More meetings will be held on the issue. We will discuss the pros and cons in detail in our state. States ask for more time on the issue,” he said.

Some states, including Tamil Nadu, are opposed to FDI in retail and e-commerce.

With retail store operators going to court seeking parity between online and offline retailers, Sitharaman met representatives from both e-commerce and retail companies on Friday to discuss the issue.

A source in the department of industrial policy and promotion told IANS here that DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant told company representatives at the meeting that the sensitive issue required detailed consultations with all stakeholders.

Almost all stakeholders, including from the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry had been invited to Friday’s meeting.

“CAIT urged the government not to turn the Indian retail market into an e-commerce dumping yard by allowing FDI in e-commerce,” its secretary general Praveen Khandelwal told IANS.

The Retailers Association of India (RAI), representing large brick-and-mortar retail companies, moved the Delhi High Court in May seeking a level playing field between online and offline retailers.

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