Confederation of All India Traders has written a letter to Shri Piyush Goyal on Urgent Need to bring a New Press Note to clarify the FDI Policy to stop inventory control by foreign e-commerce companies and also to take strong action against foreign e-commerce companies for using unfair means to gain market share at the cost of small merchants in the lockdown due to covid-19 pandemic. Full Text of the letter is as follows:-

Confederation of All India Traders

An Apex Body of Trade Federations, Associations & Non-Corporate Sector of India)

“Vyapar Bhawan”
925/1,Naiwala, Karol Bagh,New Delhi-110005.
Phone: +91-11-45032664, Telefax:+91-11-45032665
E-mail: [email protected] Website: www.cait.in

Shri Piyush Goyal
Hon’bie Minister for Commerce & Industry,
Udyog Bhawan
New Delhi- 110001

Subject: Urgent Need to bring a New Press Note to clarify the FDI Policy to stop inventory control by foreign e-commerce companies and also to take strong action against foreign e-commerce companies for using unfair means to gain market share at the cost of small merchants in the lockdown due to covid-19 pandemic.

Dear Shri Piyush Goyal Ji,

1. This representation is in continuation of a uric of our earlier complaints and representations against the practices being adopted by Amazon and Flipkart (Walmart).

2. In furtherance of the illegal activities being carried out by Amazon and Flipkart, they have now started taking undue advantage of the pandemic by making illegitimate financial  gains supplying  non-essential items which have been strictly prohibited by many state administrations due to ongoing lockdowns to prevent the spread of covid-19.

3. Sir, as you mum I. fully aware of die fist that the pandemic has hit the retail industry hard  and since 2020, the industry has seen major upheavals. It is surprising to observe that while small and medium sized businesses (Kiranas) are languishing, foreign e-commerce companies are growing exponentially at the cost of small business.

4. In the difficult dine of covid-19 pandemic when the people arc fighting fox the life and livelihood, these foreign e-commerce companies are trying to capture market share from small stores/traders/laranas by defining every item as essential including mobile phones and accessories etc. whereas the physical shops who can sell these items arc not allowed to open during the lockdown/curfew. It is beyond comprehension on how a new mobile phone ids in the category of essential Man. These e-commerce companies, in the name of devices, are supplying all kinds of appliances/items in fact everything except apparel.

5. This illegal business practice of Amazon/Flipkart is hurting small traders/Kiranas and at the same rime helping an these c-commerce companies who violate law blatantly. Since they are larger than life corporations, the Government is closing its eyes towards all violations and is providing them impunity to continue their anti­-traders/Khania practices. Small traders will be put behind bars for any such violation, whereas, these companies are being rewarded by free access to the market at the cost of small traders who are struggling for their livelihood.

6. It has been established by numerous market sun, and studies (since 2020) that MSME, have been dealt, a severe blow as a result of the pandemic. As reported by the Economic Times, a survey by the All India Manufacturer’s Organization (AIMO) showed that more than 35% MSMES had started shutting shop as early as June 2020. In another survey by Indies leading Social Media Platform, LoacalCircles  showed how close to 25% of the 7000 plus MSMES that were part of the surevy  have already shut down as of October 2020 and more than 75% had their workforce slashed by that time.

7. The stark contrast of the financial health of MSMES in India’s retail industry and the exponential growth and market share captured by these foreign e-commerce entites in evident. While MSMES in India lost their business and many of them have dosed down, Amazon’s marketplace in India had reported, self-admittedly, a 42% jump in its revenue at Rs. 11,028 crores. It has also increased its authorized share capital from Rs. 31,000 crores as on March 31, 2019 to ,60.000 crorc as on March 31, 2020. The e-commerce industry, in total, made sales of over USD 8.3 billion in 2020 as compared to USD 5 billion in 2019 according to RedSeer Consulting. It would be an understatement to state that foreign e-commerce entities in India have been taking advantage of pandemic.

8. India’s NISMEs form the backbone of the retail industry, in particular and the economy in genera/. It is pertinent to note that these small and medium businesses cannot be left to languish at the cost of global behemoths like Ammon and Flipkart, backed by corporations that have deep pockets and an unwavering indifference to India, law, its policies and its people. Its established haw these global behemoths have violated the knot and spirit of the law in India numerous times and would stop at nothing to destroy the very fabric of the Indian retail industry — small and medium businesses/Kirana as they have done in various countries of the world.

9. As per the latest orders of State Governments, Offline retail outlets/stores (except essentials) have to either remain closed or are allowed to open only for a few hours, generally for 4-5 hours in the day. However, the e. Commerce entities have beat carrying our a far wider femur of goods and services (largely nonessential) that is further leading to trouble for small Kiranas. Foreign e-commerce players, like Amazon and Flipkart are exploiting this opportunity at the cost of small Kiranas by not just selling essentials goods but also contravening the lodcdown orders by selling mobile phones, electronics, and kitchen appliances amongst others. This is seriously prejudiced against the Ma and medium businesses because our members are not allowed to open their shops/retail outlets for selling the very same products. The small businesses/Kirana, who are not to compete with the predatory pricing of foreign e-commerce players are further being subject,ed to unfair competition from the sale of non…mid goods foreign e.commerce entities in light of government restrictions.

10. It is important to note that although these foreign e-commerce entities float a perception that they are helping small and medium businesses which is nothing but a hoax. For instance, On India added over 1.5 lakh new business es to its marketplace in 2020 but what remains a fact is that 35 out of Amazon’s self admittedly over 4 Lakh sellers accounted for two-thirds of total goods sold on the marketplace, as reported by business Today. It is established beyond doubt how Amazon and Flipkart control the few “preferred” sellers that make most of the sales on their marketplace platform, in a clear violation of Press Note 2 of 2018. The FDI, Policy has always prohibited control by foreign marketplace c-commerce entities over invent, (and price) to protect the fabric of the retail industry but these amines, without , regard for law, business or people, have flouted every rule in the book.

11. It is important to prohibit these foreign e-commerce entities from gaining market share at the cost and life of small and medium Kirana stores in India because Kirana Stores have formed the backbone of the industry ova the years and mark it even more evident in the pandemic by ensuring supply  of essential and non-­essential goods and services. It is also important to protect the. Kimna stores for the over 5.5 Crone small and medium merchants, their families and dependents.

12. We pray for immediate action prohibiting these foreign e-commerce entities from ruthlessly destroying the Indian retail sector with Mar deep discounting and predatory pricing mechanisms and trampling the lives of over 40 crore Indians. We also request your good office that in pursuance of the various representations already made by the industry to issue a new Press Note with clarifications with regards to what is permitted and prohibited for marketplace e-commerce entities, to expedite the process and save the industry from the ulterior motives of these foreign entities.

Thank yon. With regards

Yours truly
Praveen Khandelwal
National Secretary General
Confederation of All India Traders

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