New Delhi: A day after the government tightened the noose around e-commerce players, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) hailed the decision, but demanded that the norms be implemented with retrospective effect from April 1, 2018 to bring all mega deals under its purview.

The Centre on Wednesday barred online retailers from selling products of companies in which they own stakes. The revised policy on FDI in e-commerce which comes into effect from February 1, 2019 has also disallowed the online retail firms to sell its products exclusively on its platform only.

“It was under immense pressure that the government decided to frame new rules," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, CAIT, on Thursday, “It was a tough, year-long struggle for traders, as the forces we were fighting against were indirectly backed by the US. We met commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, finance minister Arun Jaitley and key government officials to convince them of the need to ensure a level-playing field."

While welcoming the decision, Khandelwal said it would benefit over 7 crore small businesses in the retail market, which are engaged in an annual turnover of over 42 lakh crore. “Both online and offline traders in the country will now be able to sell their goods on e-commerce platforms in a transparent manner."

However, traders demanded that the government should also deal with past actions and implement the policy with retrospective effect from April 1, 2018. “Some multinational companies, which recently struck deals should also be included in it," Khandelwal said, referring to Walmart’s mega deal to acquire Flipkart Private Limited.

Small traders had long been critical of the government for the latter’s alleged inaction against e-commerce players dominating the retail trade in India, with their policies of exclusivity, preferential treatment, predatory pricing, deep discounting and loss funding. An association of online vendors had also written to the Prime Ministers’ Office demanding action against alleged exploitative practices of e-commerce players, which was affecting the traditional trade.

“Despite many representations and complaints, no action was taken against them by the government. So, it is extremely important that an empowered regulatory authority be formed immediately to regulate the e-commerce business in the country," Khandelwal said.

The traders body also demanded that a comprehensive e-commerce policy be declared at the earliest and the policy should be applicable not only to foreign companies, but to any e-commerce marketplace. “We believe that a market place has to remain completely neutral," according to Khandelwal.

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