The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has asked that online cab companies Ola and Uber be brought under the ecommerce policy, reports Money Control. The CAIT confirmed to MediaNama that it had raised this issue in the meeting with DPIIT.

Last week, prior to the previous deadline for comments on the draft ecommerce policy, the Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) met with industry stakeholders like Amazon, Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip, UrbanClap, Ola, Uber, Microsoft, Netflix, AIOVA, Vyapari Mandal etc who asked for a deadline extension. The deadline has now been extended to the end of this month.

Note that this will not be the CAIT’s first time asking for Ola and Uber’s regulation. In January, the association told the Financial Express that it would “challenge Ola and Uber for the kind of monopoly they have maintained in the market and are allowed to charge dynamic fair.” Then, the CAIT also wanted Grofers, Swiggy and Zomato etc to be regulated because of their cashbacks and discounts, according to the FE report.

The CAIT added that it would launch a nationwide agitation if the “government makes any change or amendment in the policy to the advantage of global e-commerce players” and seek the PM’s intervention. In fact, then, it said that a PwC report – stating that FDI restrictions in the ecommerce industry will reduce online sales by $46 billion by 2022 – was peddling the agenda of ecommerce companies since the data in the report was supplied by these companies and found in the public domain, as opposed to PwC doing its own research.

What the policy says about “ecommerce”

According to the newly released draft policy, the CAIT is not wrong in asking for Ola and Uber’s regulation under this policy, since the policy does not explicitly define ecommerce. It instead intermixes the terms “ecommerce” and the “digital ecosystem” and adds:

e-Commerce includes buying, selling, marketing or distribution of
– goods, including digital products and
– services; through electronic network
– “Delivery of goods, including digital products, and services may be online or through traditional mode of physical delivery.
– Similarly, payments against such goods and services may be made online or through traditional banking channels i.e. cheques, demand drafts or through cash.”

Opposing views: MNCs vs local players and associations

The pushback to this policy has representations from both sides. Amazon executives said that the new regulation could have unintended consequences, inconsistent with better prices and selection for Indian users, while Walmart executives said that the company was disappointed with the change of law and lack of consultation.

Meanwhile, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) asked for heavier regulation of the ecommerce industry in India. The National Restaurant Association of India also wants a code of conduct to to deal with deep discounts, the ‘dumping of capital’ and perpetually on-sale items influencing market forces by online food delivery platforms.

Read about the recent FDI in ecommerce policy as well here.

Further reading: State intervention in the development of Digital India – Sidharth Chopra, Nandita Saikia