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    My job is to tell the India story, it automatically attracts investment: Piyush Goyal


    "Many people are talking about jobs, including your paper, but I look at the jobs in the perspective of the jobs lost also. I cannot create 700,000 jobs by breaking the law, breaking every anti-competitive restriction, monopolising certain markets", said Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal.

    Set to be third largest consumer market by 2030, India being recognised as a country where you can do business without having to worry about scandals Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will lead the Indian delegation to the World Economic Forum. Ahead of the visit, he speaks with ET on the message that India wants to convey at Davos as well as his recent comments on Amazon. Edited excerpts:

    What is the programme for Davos? What message will India want to convey?
    India is going to Davos with the theme ‘Power of India’. We believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created a new level of respect for India. His 2018 speech at Davos created a huge buzz around India and we saw that reflected in the growing foreign direct investment (FDI) numbers. Also, as India is being recognised as an honest country where you can do business without having to worry about scandals as in earlier times, we find that there is great interest among countries and companies looking to engage with India much more. Our theme this time is five powers – the power of democracy, power of demography, power of leadership, power of opportunity and the power of talent. By every estimate, we will be the third largest consumer market by 2030. A $5 trillion economy in the next five years leading to possibly a $10 trillion economy by the turn of the decade. Skilled, innovative youth, talented youth and a stable political economic environment.

    Is the basic thrust to attract investment?

    The basic thrust is to talk about India. To showcase our power in these five heads. And, of course, there is a lot of engagement with many countries over the rule-based multilateral trading system which India believes should be strengthened and reformed. And, several trade issues will also be discussed. We also have the WTO ministerial there this time. So, I don’t have to ask anybody to come here, they all want to come here. I have to only help facilitate their understanding of the Indian market and the huge opportunity that awaits them.

    Whom are you meeting?
    I will be meeting the ministers of countries like the US and Germany. Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Australia, mostly trade ministers and in some cases finance ministers. Korea, Singapore, long list of ministers that I'll be meeting. We have shortlisted the companies where we will look at large opportunities. No appointment with Walmart. CEOs of GIC, Temasek, IKEA, Softbank, Allianz, there is a long list of CEOs. International manufacturing companies like ABP. We are meeting the chiefs of Visa, Unilever. We have investor round tables, we have the India $5 trillion CII EY business session. At these round table meets, we will sit down with a select group of large companies. up. The finance minister would have of course gone but with the budget coming up she must be tied up. There are certain very important developments happening in the country which have required ministers. So, I don’t think there is any deliberate effort. We have shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya and G20 sherpa Suresh Prabhu in the delegation. Also, a lot of officials as well as the chief ministers of Karnataka and MP will be there. Punjab FM, IT minister of Telangana, several of our top companies are also well represented.

    Your recent remarks on Amazon have created a lot of controversy. You have issued another statement on that…
    I have repeated what I said the first day.

    At a time when we are actively scouting for investments, does this send a wrong signal to investors?
    Not at all. International investors are very responsible companies. We have thousands of them in India. And they all come in with large amounts of capital and technology. We respect them. We invite them and value their presence and their contribution to the economy, to the jobs that they create. But, very clearly, every country has its rules. They have a law of the land which we have to respect and abide by. When Indian companies work in any other country they respect their rules and laws.

    FDI was opened up for e-commerce in 2000 subject to the condition that such companies would engage only in business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce and not in retail trading inter alia, implying that existing restrictions on FDI in domestic trading would be applicable to ecommerce as well. It is a very clearly stated legal position. Now, if anybody in the garb of B2B creates associated companies, related parties, tries to find loopholes within the law through flash sales or by circumventing the restriction on business to consumer (B2C) through innovative structures, I certainly think it's my duty to point that out to them.

    Complaints have been received from several quarters. The Competition Commission of India is seized of them. They're already investigating. As the ministry responsible for commerce and industry, I'm actually helping them so that they don't fall foul of the law and giving them an opportunity to be heard, guiding them, helping them understand the law of the land, and appealing to everybody to stay within the law.

    Many people are talking about jobs, including your paper, but I look at the jobs in the perspective of the jobs lost also. I cannot create 700,000 jobs by breaking the law, breaking every anti-competitive restriction, monopolising certain markets, causing millions of jobs to be potentially lost, incurring huge losses, which I am bound to, of course, finance and bring in FDI and then claim that I have a right.

    So, I would urge friends and stakeholders to study the entire issue in the right perspective of the law of the land. And we value investments, we welcome investments within the ambit of the law. In fact, I would urge all responsible media to also research and see the overall impact on the economy but also whether the law of the land is being respected in letter and spirit.

    In your discussion with the US, will the bilateral trade agreement also figure?
    I think the team from the US is coming down to India next week to discuss with the officials. The broad contours is what the ministers have discussed, I think the detailing is being done in India.

    In contrast, this is a modest delegation. Is this by design?
    Probably by chance. I don’t know whether other ministers may have been busy with the budget coming

    So, this is basically in ecommerce norms. There are also guidelines for marketplaces…
    That came out because there were a lot of uncertainties about what is permitted and not permitted. So maybe five or six years ago, in consultation with all the e-commerce players, we tried to bring out certain clarifications. The law is this. The rest are clarifications, but then those clarifications are sometimes misused to create structures around those clarifications and which is what we are trying to highlight to all the companies, giving them an opportunity to explain their position and requesting them to correct their practices. In fact, many of these ecommerce sites have created related parties as joint ventures with other companies through which they are controlling the inventory, the selling price and technically remaining within the ambit of the law, but clearly violating the spirit of not being permitted to do multi-brand retail in India or predatory pricing or control the marketplace through restrictive trade practices. In fact, I saw an article in your own paper which explained this in detail.

    This is Cloudtail. They have changed the structure...
    This is as of February. So, then they changed their structure into another form, but after all tell me you are a consumer, you can buy on Amazon or on Flipkart or on any of these websites. But you can’t buy on Metro. Why's that so? Metro Cash and Carry you're not able to buy because that's clearly running as a B2B. We sent mystery shoppers into the cash and carry outlets to check if they could try and get a card and only after we were fully satisfied that yes, they could not get a card because they asked for proof of business. It is my job as industry minister to protect all businesses, even from making mistakes. And I'm assuming that some of these may be bad advice or mistakes and I'd be happy if they all corrected their wrong business practices. The department's job is industrial promotion and internal trade. I have to protect internal trade and which includes not only the supply side, but also the domestic retail side.

    Every time these companies talk about jobs or of improving the lives of people, they only focus on the supplier side. Why don't they tell us more about the impact this is having on small retail, about the hundreds of thousands of mobile stores that have closed down, for example, the impact on those small retailers whose whole capital may be about a few lakh rupees who are now competing with companies whose worth is upward of Rs 70 lakh crore. With deep pockets at almost zero cost capital competing with a small retailer who pays interest in double digits and is still trying to make a livelihood for his family. Which is why, very rightly, in 2000, the law had forbidden B2C, and it was, I think, in all fairness expected that large companies will respect the law of land.
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    6 Comments on this Story

    PV361 days ago
    Just putting dow a company because a newspaper it owns does not talk good about your government is not the kind of story you want to tell. This government has made economic policies a joke. No wonder we are going below 5%.
    ARA361 days ago
    Yes, Pricing is an issue for all. But we must consider other two vital ones= COST ans VALUE ( If I remember correctly- put in an equation as - COST X VALUE= PRICE- is it right? I might be wrong) With cost reduction Value controls prices. So, some mkts thrive at the cost [ sorry for that word!] of others. Pricing is also a tool to throw out competition! (want example?- Take case of JIo as an example!) BUT THE MINISTER must spend his efforts in boosting the EMPLOYMENT-figures. I see the only to do that - Get into at Three or Four supply-chains in double-quick time in at least three or Four vital areas with expected long-life of product-lines. { not ones thst will vanish in a jiffy!} Again , cost control also includes nearness to major production centers. Let me propose one idea= WHAT IF INDIA TAKES LARGE-AREAS OF--SAY GERMANY / FRANCE / UK - ON A LONG-LEASE AND BE THAT MISSING LINK OF SUPPLY CHAIN, VERY MUCH LOCATED NEARER TO MAJOR INDUSTRIAL CENTERS? Man-power can be placed along-with needed machinery, men management, methods, ready mkts, etc ( there are 7 Ms to an industrial set-up; I only propose Land be taken on LEASE nearer manufacturing centers- SAY, of Europe.) Is ti that difficult? LET me reverse old SEZ concept! = This new SEZ I propose will become part of supply chains with all the rest of inputs - MINUS modern technology and vital land.( Now both will be on lease!) Any takers?
    May 361 days ago
    good job to tell India story, but tell some truth as well in between like people sufferings.
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