Govt asks ecomm cos to display country of origin details for products

Govt asks ecomm cos to display country of origin details for products
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
24 Jun, 2020

The government has asked online platforms to display the country of origin for products sold on their platforms to promote Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiatives. 

The decision, which may reduce the share of Chinese products during the ongoing standoff with the country, was announced in an online session held by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Representatives of ecommerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal, Paytm Mall, 1MG, Udaan and Pepperfry attended the meeting.

It may be noted that an amendment made to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011, which came into effect in 2018, mandates mentioning the country of origin for imported products. The same will now apply to online sellers as well, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) said in the meeting.

The feasibility of adding the country of origin for all products on ecommerce platforms was also discussed. The number of listings by a single seller could run upward of a crore, as older or out-of-stock listings are seldom taken down.

“It is possible to add the field for country of origin to new products being listed now but to do this retrospectively will be difficult. Also it is the prerogative of the seller to fill up the field. We will be talking to our technology teams,” an ecommerce executive who was part of the discussion said.

While Amazon and Flipkart did not respond to specific email queries sent by TechCircle, a Paytm Mall spokesperson said: “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.”

The timeline for compliance to the rule is likely to be decided in a meeting scheduled to take place by end of the month, the ecommerce firm executive quoted earlier said.

The move was welcomed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). 

“As per information available, various ecommerce companies have about 70% Chinese goods,” Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT, said. 

The trader body had on June 15 written to Piyush Goyal, the minister of commerce, asking the government to make it mandatory for ecommerce portals to mention the country of origin for all the products listed on their websites. 

The development comes a day after sellers on the government e-marketplace (GeM), which is used by government departments and public sector undertakings to procure goods and services, were asked to display the country of origin for new and existing product listings.