RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch today urged the government to not enter into any agreement on e-commerce at the RCEP negotiations starting tomorrow, arguing that such a move would benefit global e- tailers at the cost of domestic retailers.
"We are hearing from some reports that the e-commerce chapter is expected to be concluded during this round of negotiations in RCEP. This is a matter of great concern for all Indians," Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said in a letter written to Union minister for commerce Suresh Prabhu and information and technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between 16 member states, including India.
It is a proposed FTA between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.
The 20th round of negotiations of RCEP will start in Incheon, South Korea, tomorrow.
The proposals in RCEP include removal of tariffs on e- trading, which will severely impact the retailers as well as customs duty revenues and therefore government spending, Mahajan said.
"Introduction of e-commerce chapter will immensely benefit big foreign e-commerce giants like Alibaba and Amazon, at the cost of small domestic retailers," he said.
SJM also alleged that China was pushing interests of 'Alibaba' for duty free access of its manufactured goods into the Indian market using the e-commerce route and similarly American giant e-corporations were also advancing their demands through RCEP member-nation Japan.
"These rules seek to free up all regulation on their activity through provisions such as free data flows, no disclosure of source code and so on," Mahajan said.
India should take care public and private data of its citizens and not hand them over to such corporations, he said while emphasising that agreeing to e-commerce rules in RCEP will be a tactical mistake and undermine India's stand in the World Trade Organisation.
"We therefore request both of you that neither the IT Ministry nor the Commerce Ministry agree to any commitments in RCEP on ecommerce," the SJM said in the letter.
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