Book review: Pralok Gupta (Ed), E-Commerce in India: Economic and Legal Perspectives

Published date01 May 2021
Date01 May 2021
Subject MatterBook Review
Book Review
Pralok Gupta (Ed), E-Commerce in India: Economic and Legal Perspectives.
New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2020, INR 1,250, 328 pp. ISBN 978-93-
Noting the rising trend in global electronic commerce and foreseeing the vast
future potential, the Geneva Ministerial Meeting (1998) of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) first initiated discussion on this aspect. The subsequent
negotiations led to a moratorium on custom duties on electronic transmissions,
on temporary but regularly extendable basis, with tremendous trade and develop-
ment consequences. While the cross-border trade flows through E-commerce
route have increased significantly over the last couple of years positively benefit-
ing the developed and high-income developing countries on the one hand, the
flow of duty-free imports have challenged the industrialisation initiatives of the
middle-income developing countries and less developed countries (LDCs), digi-
tally and otherwise, on the other. It has been noted that the tariff revenue loss
from the import duty moratorium on E-commerce has been severe for several
developing countries, namely—Mexico ($1.9 billion), Thailand ($1.7 billion),
Nigeria ($580 million), India ($497 million) and China ($493 million) (Banga,
2019). The loss of revenue in the short run, and the possible loss of industrial
space, digital and otherwise in long run, have forced the developing countries to
call for initiatives to preserve their policy and regulatory space at the WTO nego-
tiations (World Trade Organisation, 2019). These concerns got reflected in
India’s draft National E-commerce Policy (February 2019), prepared in continu-
ation of the strategic initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skill
India’, and so on (Nair, 2020).
The importance of E-commerce and the policy debate surrounding the same in
India is going to remain vibrant for two reasons. First, the E-commerce transactions
have deepened in the country in the last six months, given the post COVID-19
reality and the associated enhanced awareness on social distancing. It is likely that
the inclination towards platform-based purchasing behaviour would continue.
Second, the country has launched the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ in May
2020, with the objective of promoting industrial growth. Enhancing domestic
value-addition has been one of the key objectives therein. Possible conflicts
between maturing of these recent strategic initiatives and growth in imports
through E-commerce route might lead to a policy dilemma. It is therefore crucial
for Indian policymakers and negotiators to understand the implications of the
related domestic opportunities and regulatory and operational challenges for
Foreign Trade Review
56(2) 225–227, 2021
© 2021 Indian Institute of
Foreign Trade
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0015732521995170

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