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G-20 asks countries including India to air their views on e-commerce

For the first time, a forum of G-20 has asked various countries to air their views on e-commerce. These countries include India. In three issue notes circulated to the governments of member countries, the forum has asked for views on enhancing the readiness of countries to engage in digital trade and how the WTO can promote ecommerce and measuring the digital economy.

It is now said that India is likely to face pressure from developed countries to open up its e-commerce sector. The German G-20 presidency aims to develop a conceptual framework for measuring cross-border digital trade it is aid. In addition, the G-20 could explore the applicability of WTO rules for digital trade including potential limits of and gaps within these rules and assess its development dimension.

A commerce ministry official acknowledged that G-20 has sought comments on digital trade for the first time. The issue is likely to be taken up at the G-20 meeting this year.

India does not allow foreign investment in business to consumer e-commerce retail. Amazon and foreign investor-funded Flipkart function as marketplaces. Citing lack of international accounting standards and common understanding as challenges in capturing the digital trade in statistics, G-20 noted that the uptake of ecommerce is uneven. It has called for full participation of SMEs in developing countries and less developed economies to benefit from online trade.