Not averse to foreign investment but investors must comply with policies: Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal (Photo: Piyush Goyal)

Days after Amazon promised fresh investments in India to digitize small and medium businesses, the country’s trade minister, Piyush Goyal reiterated that the government is not averse to foreign investments in India as long as inventors comply with policies. Goyal was speaking to representatives of a traders’ association on Saturday where he also urged small businesses to modernize and adopt e-commerce to compete with other businesses.

Representatives of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) issued a statement post their meeting with Goyal in the capital on Saturday.

In its statement, CAIT quoted the trade minister as saying, “the Government of India is not averse to foreign investment and rather welcomes every investment into India but it is mandatory for all investors to strictly comply with the policy and law of the government both in letter and spirit and no one will be allowed, under any circumstances, to violate the fundamentals of policy and encroach upon the trade and commerce of the country through back door, creating an uneven level playing field to exploit the same for their own benefits.”

“The government is keeping a strict watch on such activities,” the statement said quoting Goyal.

The meeting between CAIT, that represents the interest of over 7 crore traders, and Goyal comes a few days after American e-commerce retailer Amazon promised fresh investments to the tune of $1 billion in India. The announcements were made by Amazon’s founder, and CEO, Jeff Bezos who was on a three-day visit to India last week. Bezos also promised to create 1 million jobs here by 2025.

But the company’s announcements were met with lukewarm response, initially. CAIT representatives staged a protest in parts of the country to agitate against the discounts given by e-retailers in India; even as India’s competition watchdog announced a probe into Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart for alleged violation of competition rules, including discounting offers and promoting “preferred sellers”.

Then, on Thursday, Goyal said companies such as Amazon are not doing the country a favour by investing in India. However, Goyal was quick to clarify his comment and said he does not have a problem with investments from e-commerce firms as long as they stick to regulatory guidelines. “Some people interpreted my yesterday’s (Thursday) statement as if I said anything negative against Amazon. If you look at the context of what I said, I was trying to convey that investments should come within the rules and regulations. It is the same everywhere in the world. We welcome investment within those rules and regulations. But because of that investment, an unfair competition should not be created for the small kirana stores. They don’t get loans at zero interest rate, they don’t have millions of rupees, they do their business with small investments. We want the investment to come within the set legal criteria,” Goyal told reporters last week.

In a statement released on Sunday, CAIT said that the trade minister assured small businesses that the government is keeping a watch on activities and is in the process of preparing a robust e-commerce policy that will ensure a level playing field going forward.

CAIT said the minister also urged small traders to adopt and prepare themselves for online commerce going forward. .”..he stressed the need for the traders of the country to upgrade and modernise themselves and adopt and accept e-commerce as an additional business opportunity and be prepared for a healthy competition. Dominance of any vertical will not be allowed,” CAIT said in its statement quoting Goyal.