The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade on Wednesday directed e-commerce companies to figure out a way for customers to identify the country of origin for all products being sold on their platforms, reports the Indian Express. This was conveyed during a meeting with 20 firms including Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, Pepperfry.

The companies have reportedly sought around 10 days to work out a method for this. 1mg, Myntra, JioMart, BigBasket, and Shopclues were also at the meeting. Amazon and Flipkart have agreed to compel their merchants to start prominently displaying it for all goods being sold in the country, reported Bloomberg. The development comes as the border face-off between Indian and China continues to intensify, with the Indian government pushing for self-reliance through the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign.

However, it remains unclear as to what ‘country of origin’ means. Products are often manufactured in one country, assembled in another, whereas the raw material and components may have been sourced from another country. E-commerce companies have asked for 4-5 months to comply with the requirement, reported the Economic Times.

GeM mandated “country of origin” too, added local content feature

On June 23, the government’s e-commerce platform, Government e-Marktplace, made it mandatory for sellers to specify the country of origin while registering new products on the portal. Sellers who have already uploaded their products “are being reminded regularly to update the country of origin. It’s with a warning that their products will be removed from the GeM if they fail to update,” the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a statement.

All central and state government departments and the attendant public sector agencies are mandated to directly purchase common-use goods and services solely through GeM. Sellers have to register on the platform and compete with others in an open-market model.

GeM has also enabled a provision to indicate the “percentage of local content in products” and buyers can choose to buy only the products that meet “the minimum 50% local content criteria”. “In case of Bids, Buyers can now reserve any bid for Class I Local suppliers (Local Content > 50%). For those Bids below INR 200 crore, only Class I and Class II Local Suppliers (Local content > 50% and > 20% respectively) are eligible to bid, with Class I supplier getting purchase preference.” The portal has also enabled the Make in India filter.

Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had asked for this requirement to be imposed on all e-commerce companies on June 21. After the GeM directive was passed, CAIT  wrote to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal once again, asking that the ‘Country of Origin’ mandate should be applied to all e-commerce portals