For the first time, G-20 recently requested its members to provide their views on digital trade to check on how ready are they to fully enter the world of e-commerce. This list includes India which is currently facing pressure to conform. The deadline is set to the next World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 11th eleventh session of the ministerial conference which is planned for December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the issue will be discussed.
India is facing pressure from developed countries to open up the discussion
The German G-20 presidency wants to implement a process that enables cross-border digital trade measurement. In doing so, it will then be capable of examining WTO rules for digital trade from various angles. This will allow for a determination on if these rules are applicable and verify potential limits and gaps, with the objective of making them more efficient if needed.
Noticing that the statistical approach of e-commerce is uneven within the country members, G-20 has called for full participation of small and medium enterprises in developing countries and less developed economies to benefit from online trade. Many developed countries have been pushing to include the issue to the next gathering, in order to foster cooperation, information exchange and SMEs capacity building.
Why has the country avoided the e-commerce subject until now?
So far, India does not authorize foreign investment in online retail. For example, Amazon and Flipkart can only operate as marketplaces. And even if their policy toward e-commerce has not changed, India agrees the the subject has to be discussed and that the country will have to take a clear position.
As expected, Indian e-commerce actors do not want anything to change. They don’t want the country to open up or foreign companies to come here freely. On the other hand, foreign companies operating in India are looking some kind of opening to better develop their businesses.
Quick overview of the future Indian e-commerce situation
Much of the future of India’s e-commerce growth is predicted to be caused by the boost of internet penetration since the number of Indian citizens are already online is forecast to almost double, shooting up from about 350 million today to 600 million by 2020.
Therefore, the Indian e-commerce market is predicted to outmatch the US. It will then become the second largest market in the world in less than two decades, even battling China for the top spot, according to a report by global payments firm Worldpay.
A major factor of e-commerce growth in India is the quick spread of mobile phones in the country. Indeed, India is the first consumer of mobile phones in the world. Additionally, data plans are very cheap (two times cheaper than in China, and three times cheaper than in the US). What’s more, with 70% of the population being younger than 35, millennials will definitely expand this phenomenon in the coming years.