E-commerce think tank to hold first meet on 24 April to discuss cross-border trade issues

Issues that would be discussed include cross border data flow, non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, data localisation, protection and disclosure of source code, and online consumer protection

The think tank set up by the government to deliberate on issues related to e-commerce sector and cross-border digital trade will hold its first meeting here on 24 April 2018. Issues that would be taken up at the meeting include cross border data flow, non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, data localisation, protection and disclosure of source code, desirability of permanent moratorium on payment of customs duty on electronically transmitted goods, and online consumer protection, said a source — who did not wish to be named.

Other matters that could be discussed include online data protection, facilitating cross-border e-commerce, and promoting paperless trading. The think tank is led by commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu and comprised officials from ministries of finance, home affairs, corporate affairs, and electronics and information technology.

Representatives from industry chambers including CII, exporters body FIEO, MSME, telecom companies, IT and ecommerce firms including Bharti Enterprises, Reliance Jio, TCS, Wipro, Ola and Makemytrip would take part in the meeting.

The setting up of about 70-member body assumes significance as cross-border digital trade is growing at a faster pace and developed countries want an agreement on ecommerce trade under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation. India wants resolution of important pending issues first such as finding a permanent solution for food security purposes before negotiating new matters like ecommerce trade in the WTO.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia had in March made a case for framing a national ecommerce policy and a related consolidated legal framework to address the challenges of the sector. There are several issues which the sector is grappling with and that includes who owns the business-to-consumer ecommerce space and involvement of multiple agencies like departments of IT, telecom, industrial policy, revenue and the RBI.

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