CBEC for voluntary code for e-retailers to curb illicit trade

NEW DELHI, Jan 15:  Expressing concern over sale of fake products on e-commerce platform, CEBC today said it is considering putting in place a voluntary code of practice for e-retailers to curb illicit trade.
“New challenges are emerging for customs. E-commerce is one such major area of vulnerability. E-commerce in India provides an unparalleled platform for sellers of both genuine and counterfeit products. So, we are looking at possibility of introducing voluntary code of practice for e-retailers,” Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairman Najib Shah said at an event organised by Ficci here.
The easy concealment of identity encourages sale of counterfeit products on the e-commerce platform. At times, intermediaries are denied judicial protection in the absence of strong law, he said.
To address the challenges posed by e-commerce trade, Shah said CBEC will at a seminar next month discuss with stakeholders the possibility of introducing ‘voluntary code of practice’ for e-retailers to fight illicit trade.
Stating that any smuggling and counterfeit activities is a matter of great concern to the government, the CBEC chief said, “This game is done at the cost of the honest tax payers. Though it results in financial gain to the person infringing the law but it is a financial loss to the exchequer.”
Shah also emphasised on the intellectual property rights and called for structured interaction between the customs and stakeholders on this issue.
The latest report, ‘Emerging challenges to legitimate business in the border-less world’, prepared by tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton and industry body Ficci, also noted that online marketplaces have become a “preferred hub for illicit operations” owing to their wider reach and ease of access.
Prominent players including Alibaba, Amazon and SnapDeal, etc have been at the receiving end of imitation products offered by third parties not connected to the brand owner, the report said and suggested e-retailers to put in place an holistic anti-counterfeit policy.
That apart, the report also pitched for a separate e- commerce law in the country to check illicit trade.
“In the absence of a specific e-commerce legislature in India and other laws including the Information Technology Act, Indian Companies Act, Companies Act 2013, Intellectual property, laws in copyrights and trademark etc, there are certain grey areas. Thus, there is a need for a separate e- commerce law in the country,” the report said.
The e-commerce regulations have a long way to go in India and inching closely towards this journey is the recent proposal of the Consumer Affairs Ministry to bring e-commerce businesses under the purview of multiple government agencies, the report added.
The report was released here by Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. (PTI)


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