According to some sources report, “The government has asked eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart to display the country of origin on new products listed by sellers on their sites by August 1 and legacy items by October 1 without stipulating a deadline. The companies sought more time to implement the changes, which are part of the government’s plan to curb imports, at an online meeting with officials on Wednesday. The platforms said the measures should be introduced in a phased manner with the involvement of manufacturers and sellers in the process”.
An official said, “The government will take a call on the final deadline soon”.
The sources added, “Under the current law, there is no requirement to display country of origin on non-packaged goods. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will discuss the introduction of the relevant legal provisions with the consumer affairs ministry on listing such information”.
A government official stated,” No decision was taken — it was only a consultation and follow-up of the previous meeting. A deadline will be decided later because packaging issues come under the consumer affairs ministry”.
Sources said, “While Flipkart is understood to have suggested a deadline of August 15 to implement the required backend changes, Amazon sought 2-3 months for the same”. A company official, present in the Wednesday meeting said, “The government wants that new listings to be updated by August 1 and the old ones by October 1 but it was decided that work on the new ones must begin as soon as possible”.
Representatives of about 30 e-commerce companies were present in the meeting and they raised their concerns regarding the feasibility of the move and lack of clarity in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules. They have asked for more time in the implementation of the move invoking present challenges such as the situation of MSMEs due to the Pandemic and the technological hurdles.
A senior executive of an e-commerce company said, “Since most companies said it was not feasible to implement this within the timelines set by DPIIT, they’ve asked us to start working on introducing country of origin for all new listings ASAP, and said they will come back to us in a few days’ time after discussing with consumer affairs for updating existing listings”.
After getting companies’ feedback, the government would likely review the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules that govern pre packaged commodities and cover declarations about the country of origin, date of manufacture, quantity, expiry date and manufacturer’s details among other information about the product.
Some executives believe that “the move will put online sellers at a disadvantage, benefiting offline ones.” According to a source person, “Participants said that sellers can only reproduce what is on the package and the government needs to rope in manufacturers if they want details on value addition such as photograph of the label showing origin, assembly and other details,”
E-pharma companies told DPIIT that drug manufacturers had specific exemptions under the packaged commodity law. An executive said, “We told the DPIIT that the compliance burden for this was on manufacturers and sellers, who weren’t in the room”. And added, “Tech enablement is something we can do, and have already been doing for the past few weeks.”
Ecommerce players want compliance for the display of country of origin on goods to be in tranches. They demanded manufacturers to be made to come on board to help the implementation of the move.
Smaller sellers are likely to be the worst hit due to increased compliance pressure by the government. An executive said that 90% of the listings can become compliant with the new rule by the end of July, though it will be difficult for smaller manufacturers to do so.