E-comm firms may get more time to dis­play ‘coun­try of ori­gin’ for ex­ist­ing prod­ucts

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - AMITI SEN

New Delhi, July 7

The Cen­tre is likely to give a longer time-frame to e-com­merce com­pa­nies to dis­play ‘coun­try of ori­gin’ for prod­ucts al­ready listed by sell­ers on their por­tals, but it will not ex­empt such items from the re­quire­ment, a govern­ment of­fi­cial has said.

For new prod­ucts that get dis­played on on­line re­tail plat­forms, how­ever, the time given to manda­to­rily start dis­play­ing the coun­try of ori­gin may be shorter, the of­fi­cial told Busi­nessLine.

“The time-lines that e-com­merce com­pa­nies would be com­fort­able with for dis­play­ing coun­try of ori­gin for prod­ucts sold on their plat­forms will be dis­cussed in a sec­ond meet­ing be­tween in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the govern­ment likely this week,” the of­fi­cial said. The meet­ing could take place on July 8.

The govern­ment wants ecom­merce com­pa­nies to dis­play the coun­try of ori­gin for items sold on their plat­forms to en­able con­sumers make in­formed choices. With an­tiChina feel­ings run­ning high among cer­tain sec­tion of buy­ers be­cause of the on-go­ing bor­der ten­sion, there is a feel­ing that many may re­ject items com­ing from China.

Long time to up­date

In the first meet­ing be­tween the e-com­merce com­pa­nies and the Depart­ment for Pro­mo­tion of In­dus­try and In­ter­nal Trade (DPIIT) on June 25, the e-tail­ers told the govern­ment that while they were ready to com­ply with the re­quire­ment of dis­play­ing ‘coun­try of ori­gin’ it would be dif­fi­cult to do so for items al­ready listed on the plat­form. For large play­ers like Flip­kart and Ama­zon, the items listed run into thou­sands and it would take a lot of time to up­date them with in­for­ma­tion on the coun­tries they orig­i­nate from.

“We un­der­stand that it might take a long time for ex­ist­ing prod­ucts to be up­dated with coun­try of ori­gin but it can be surely done. Sell­ers on the Govern­ment e-Mar­ket plat­form have started do­ing so al­ready,” the of­fi­cial said.

Some e-com­merce com­pa­nies are also wor­ried that dis­play­ing the ‘coun­try of ori­gin’ for the stocks that they hold may re­sult in the items not get­ting sold. With Covid-19 dis­rup­tions hurt­ing busi­ness, this could be an ad­di­tional blow.

On the is­sue of how the ‘coun­try of ori­gin’ is to be de­fined and whether sell­ers will also have to ac­count for the in­puts sourced from a for­eign coun­try used in their prod­ucts, the of­fi­cial said that there was al­ready an es­tab­lished sys­tem for this.

GeM, the on­line pro­cure­ment plat­form for govern­ment bod­ies, which has made it com­pul­sory for new items to have the coun­try of ori­gin men­tioned, has also en­abled a pro­vi­sion for indi­ca­tion of the per­cent­age of lo­cal con­tent in prod­ucts.

Ac­cord­ing to traders’ body CAIT, which is sup­port­ing a ‘boy­cott Chi­nese goods’ cam­paign, about 70 per cent of items sold on ma­jor e-com­merce plat­forms in In­dia were of Chi­nese ori­gin.

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