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(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

E-commerce products will have country of origin

  • The move is part of govt’s push to reduce import dependency on China
  • Flipkart and Amazon seek time till July to comply with the demand

New Delhi/Bengaluru: E-commerce players have agreed to display the country of origin of products sold on their platforms, with the government aiming to reduce import dependency on China amid the ongoing face-off between the two Asian giants along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“E-commerce players have sought time to comply with the proposal. We have asked them to let us know quickly how much time they need. We are not banning sale of any product. We are just asking them to display the country of origin of the product on their portals so that customers can make an informed choice. They told us while for new products, compliance will be easier, for existing products it may take more time," a commerce ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

The Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal, which is used by government departments for public procurement, on Tuesday made it mandatory for sellers to enter the “country of origin" while registering all new products.

“Sellers who had already uploaded their products before the introduction of this new feature on GeM are being reminded regularly to update it, with a warning that their products shall be removed if they fail to update the same," the commerce ministry said.

Company executives, who attended the meeting on Wednesday, said the industry was aligned with the government’s agenda. However, e-commerce majors, such as Flipkart and Amazon, wanted time till July to implement it. They said that it could be a challenge for sellers with thousands of listings. Some company executives also highlighted the challenges of authenticating the information provided by sellers and sought clarity on the definition of “country of origin".

“Certain players raised points around what would be considered as the country of origin for products if the raw materials are procured from China and the manufacturing takes place in India. The government ought to clarify," said one executive, asking not to be named.

“Adding country of origin has to do more with seller compliance rather than with a platform. And after today’s discussion, the government recognizes that. Since it is difficult due to covid impact, sellers might also be reluctant to add this information to clear unlisted inventory. If the government wants this implemented for old listings this will turn out to be a nightmare for sellers," said an e-commerce executive, requesting anonymity.

A Paytm Mall spokesperson said: “We welcome and wholeheartedly support the government’s decision to promote Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat. We are fully committed to promote India-made products and the manufacturing sector in the country. We have already initiated discussions with our sellers, merchant partners on the next steps to drive this initiative further."

In the bloodiest clash in 45 years, Chinese and Indian troops clashed earlier this month in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. India has since then refused to grant market economy status to China, imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel imports, and terminated a railways contract awarded to a Chinese firm.

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