E-sellers supplying to Indian government must mention product origin amid anti-China fervour

24, Jun. 2020

Activists of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) burn Chinese goods in New Delhi during a protest against the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by Chinese troops in Ladakh on June 22, 2020. (PTI)
Activists of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) burn Chinese goods in New Delhi during a protest against the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by Chinese troops in Ladakh on June 22, 2020. (PTI)

By Atul Ranjan

NEW DELHI, NNA - India has made it mandatory for sellers to reveal the country of origin of their products before listing on the government procurement portal GeM, even as demand to have the same requirement for all e-commerce platforms grows amid calls to boycott Chinese products in the country.

The move is part of the 'Self-Reliant India' campaign unveiled in May to strengthen local companies as the country reopened businesses following a stringent nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has also set a provision for the indication of the percentage of local content in the products listed on GeM, which is used by the government departments to procure goods online. The platform is managed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,

“More importantly, the ‘Make in India’ filter has now been enabled on the portal. Buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet the minimum 50 percent local content criteria,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The country’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade is also likely to meet e-commerce firms on Wednesday to discuss the naming of the country of origin of products listed on their platforms.

“We have urged the government to also make it mandatory for the e-commerce firms to include this provision to let the customers know the country of origin of a product first before making a decision to buy it,” Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), told NNA on Tuesday.

The association has been leading the ‘Boycott Chinese Goods’ campaign in the country after many Indians were angered by the deaths of Indian soldiers following a skirmish with Chinese forces in the Himalayas on Monday night last week.

“Almost all e-commerce companies in India are selling Chinese goods. This ‘Country of Origin’ provision for e-commerce portals would prevent people from buying Chinese goods unknowingly,” he said.

According to Khandelwal, CAIT has to continue its anti-China campaign until the association achieves its goal of reducing Chinese imports worth $13 billion by December 2021 in the country.

Welcoming the government’s latest decision, K.E. Raghunathan, immediate past president of All India Manufacturers’ Organisation, sees the move as part of government policy to promote local goods in the country as it curbs imports from countries including China.

The country has witnessed a surge in protests calling for a boycott of Chinese products after weeks of a border stand-off in the Himalayas erupted into the deadly brawl between forces of the two Asian powers.

It resulted in 20 deaths on the Indian side but China has not reported whether it suffered any casualties. The incident took place in the disputed Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

On Tuesday night this week, Indian and Chinese military commanders agreed to disengage troops and withdraw heavy military equipment such as fighter jets and tanks, lined up on respective sides of the border named as Line of Actual Control (LAC).

On Monday, officials in the western Indian state of Maharashtra said they were reviewing agreements with three Chinese companies while awaiting directions from the government on how or whether to proceed.