E-commerce rules do not allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail: Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion

New Delhi: The FDI rules pertaining to e-commerce have not allowed foreign investment in the inventory-based model or multi-brand retailing, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) clarified on Thursday. It also stressed that the provisions are also not against the interest of consumers, noting that only fair, competitive and transparent business practices would be beneficial for buyers. These clarifications have come against the backdrop of new provisions announced by the DIPP related to FDI in e-commerce sector last month. “Certain averments suggest that Press Note 3/2016 had covertly allowed multi-brand retail trading. Such a view is completely contrary to the specific provisions of Press Note 3/2016, which unambiguously provided that FDI is not permitted in the inventory-based model of e-commerce which amounts to multi-brand retail,” a note released by the DIPP said. Under Press Note 3/2016, the government has enlisted provisions of foreign direct investment (FDI) in e-commerce.

The DIPP also said that the government continued to receive complaints that certain marketplace platforms were violating the policy by influencing the price of products and indirectly engaging in the inventory-based model.”An e-commerce platform operating an inventory-based model does not only violate the FDI policy on e-commerce but also circumvents the FDI policy restrictions on multi-brand retail trading,” it said.Recent provisions released by the department in FDI in e-commerce sector were needed to ensure that the rules are not circumvented, the DIPP mentioned.Tightening the norms for e-commerce players, the government has barred them from selling products of the companies in which they have shareholdings.E-commerce companies cannot enter into agreements for the exclusive sale of products, according to the rules.

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