US official's India visit may address FDI issues faced by e-commerce players
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' three-day visit to India starting Wednesday comes at a crucial time when American giants Walmart and Amazon are facing fresh difficulties after changes in the country's FDI norms for the e-commerce segment. Sources said the US Secretary is likely to exert pressure on his Indian counterpart to make changes to the country's e-commerce policy in favour of the American giants Amazon and Walmart. The US retail giant Walmart is the majority stakeholder in the e-retail major Flipkart.
The new norms which prohibit the e-tailers from selling products of companies in which they have stakes came into effect on February 1 despite both Amazon and Walmart seeking a six-month delay in their implementation. These norms released in December also prohibit online retailers from mandating any company to sell its products exclusively on its platform. The new policy also noted that online retail firms will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods and services and will maintain a level playing field.
Beginning Thursday, Ross would co-chair the India-US CEO Forum with the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu. Announcing the delegation of 20 American CEOs accompanying him, Ross said: "The US-India CEO Forum is critical to the fruitful commercial relationship and strong economic ties between our two great nations."
"The incoming US CEOs will bring fresh perspectives to the Forum and help us consider new opportunities to further deepen our cooperation," he added. The private sector American members or chiefs of the forum include CEO MasterCard Ajay Banga, Cisco System Chairman John Chambers, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf and CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Antonio Neri.
MasterCard has had its share of discomfort in the country of late with the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) data localisation norms. The Reserve Bank of India in April issued a new regulation, which came into effect from October 16, requiring payments companies to store all information about transactions involving Indians solely on computers in the country.
Both the major payment service providers MasterCard and Visa had initially resisted the move and sought an extension in the implementation of norms. They have, however, toed the RBI's line and have complied. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is also grabbing headlines as he has been summoned by a parliamentary panel.
The US Commerce Secretary's visit is also likely to feature talks on the protectionist measures and ongoing trade tensions between the two countries. Industry participants feel Ross's visit should also be an opportunity for the Indian government to discuss trade and tariff issues with the US administration.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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