Trade, Imports, Exports for MSMEs: MSMEs are the backbone of Indian economy but the increasing trends of protectionism in the form of non-tariff barriers (NTB) are denying market access to these enterprises particularly from the developing countries, said Commerce minister Piyush Goyal in the meeting with BRICS trade ministers in Brasilia, Brazil on Tuesday.

The minister said that while developed countries talk about open and free trade by removing tariffs in developing countries but they themselves increase barriers in the form of NTBs. This is creating economic uncertainties and increasing the cost to carry out trade in developing and least developed countries, according to Goyal.

Goyal’s comments come days after India decided to step out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement with 15 countries stating that India did not get any “credible assurance on market access and non-tariff barriers”. Among the key factors for India to decline to be part of RCEP was that “micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector would suffer the most had India agreed to the member countries ambition to remove duties on around 90 per cent of the products exported to India,” PHD Chamber new President D K Aggarwal had recently told Financial Express Online in an interview.

Goyal in his meeting on Tuesday stressed on the fact that despite the challenges faced by the global economy because of growing protectionism and trade tensions due to unilateral measures, India continues to provide “economic opportunities with reduced corporate taxes that are the most competitive in the world, liberalised rules for FDI and revitalisation of sectors like real estate and the micro and small enterprises,” a statement by the commerce ministry said.

The minister also touched upon the predatory pricing aspect allegedly carried out by e-commerce companies affecting small retailers. “I would like to highlight the adverse impact of predatory pricing indulged by some e-commerce players which adversely impact millions of small retailers. It is important for e-commerce to follow the letter and spirit of the law,” he said. His comments come a day after the Department of Consumer Affairs came out with draft Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules, 2019, broadly reiterating the Consumer Protection Guidelines for e-commerce companies issued by the department in August this year and the draft e-commerce policy that the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade had issued in February this year.

The argument of predatory pricing, deep discounting etc., is led by traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) claiming uneven level playing field created by e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart even as the two portals have claimed conformity with existing laws governing e-commerce and FDI in the sector.

Published On : 13-11-2019

Source : Financial Express

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