The Retailers Association of India (RAI) railed against the government’s invitation for stakeholders’ consultation meeting on FDI policy in e-commerce.
It took the line that retail business should not be classified based on channels like offline stores and online.
The industry body said retailers would not participate in the meeting.
“There should be a level-playing field in respect of FDI across different retail formats. It’s our concern that although the outcome of e-commerce and retail in physical world is the same, the treatment meted out by the government of India to the two players in the same market is inequitable,” RAI said in a statement.
“The double standard of the government in allowing e-commerce with foreign investment in India while not allowing multi-brand retail in the physical world is discriminatory,” the statement read, quoting RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan as saying.
The statement further said: “Retailers have decided to not participate in today’s stakeholders consultation meeting on FDI policy on the e-commerce sector called by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).”
The meeting would be chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Besides, representatives from other associations, including NASSCOM, would attend the meet.
At present, 100 per cent FDI is allowed only in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce and not in retail segment.
Global retail giants like Amazon and the domestic industry want the government to relax the foreign investment norms in the e-commerce space.
Issues which could come up for discussions include pros and cons of permitting foreign players in the e-commerce sector and allowing multi-national firms to do e-tailing, an industry source said.
The industry official said liberalising the policy in the sector would help boost domestic manufacturing, particularly the interests of MSME entrepreneurs, and attract investments.
However, on the flip side, it may adversely affect the small brick-and-mortar shops as big companies may go for predatory pricing, the official added.
Global e-commerce players are looking at India because the country is one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in Asia-Pacific, along with China.