Business Law

E-trade coverage risks placing the cart before the horse

On 24 February 2019, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade published the draft National E-trade Policy (ECP), which sets out a proposed framework for the world. While the ECP states that it aims to fill within the regulatory gaps, it additionally highlights numerous competition troubles.

Ata is the principle premise around which the ECP was established. It seems to suggest that statistics imply market strength and monopoly. It notes that getting the right of data entry can give rise to market distortions. Businesses could locate that after it scales past a particular factor, it makes access into that region by way of a 2nd comer next to impossible. According to the ECP, all of these consequences in barriers to marketplace entry.

However, it does not perceive any unique marketplace, which is typically a place to begin to assess any competition problem. The ECP broadly defines e-commerce as buying, selling, advertising, or distributing products, along with digital products and services through a digital community. Despite this definition, it appears to consist of social media networks and serps inside the ambit of e-commerce. Such a consolidated description of a market is contradictory to competition law jurisprudence.


The general assumption that the entire virtual sector will continually enjoy community effects seems overarching. Network effects have been taken into consideration as a feature of some markets, mainly multi-sided systems. However, this on its personal does not suggest an anti-competitive effect.

Notably, India’s antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), has assessed online platforms. For example, its selection, even as determining the behavior of Uber and Ola, is a tremendous example of how markets with community results aren’t antithetical to an aggressive panorama.

Data as an essential facility

The ECP concludes that the loss of entry to records for Indian groups might stop them from developing high-priced digital merchandise. This conclusion seems to be based totally on the idea that access to statistics is critical to working in the digital market, which isn’t supported via any considerable take a look at.

More importantly, the belief seems to expect that records are exclusionary. However, information gift a different structure. For example, customers may be on numerous social media programs at an equal time, which means that a user’s statistics are obtainable to various firms straight away. In the absence of any actual proof of exclusion, those conclusions are likely to bring about a fallacious evaluation of the marketplace.

Anticompetitive behavior

The ECP also lists appropriate conduct as anti-aggressive, with predatory behavior, diagnosed as large-scale capital dumping by companies with the deep wallet to finance sustained losses, and excessive prices charged for advertising with the aid of social media platforms and search engines like google and yahoo. Both predatory and immoderate pricing require demonstrative financial proof to be identified as anti-aggressive behavior, which the ECP currently lacks.


The ECP is targeted at imparting treatments that appear to beautify the competitors’ welfare in the market. For instance, the ECP states that statistics need to be supplied to Indian entities to compete. It also lauds today’s overseas direct investment policy that prohibits foreign-owned online marketplaces from adopting a stock-based totally model.

The ECP expressly states that the e-commerce sector has improved customer welfare via the benefits of a wider variety of merchandise and multiplied competition by decreasing fees. The ECP additionally diagnosed the accelerated innovation within the zone. However, it does no longer cope with the need to stability this increased client welfare with any available steps in regulating the arena.

The ECP, at first-class, may be defined as a start line for figuring out troubles that need to be discussed and assessed. Any law, based on this coverage, without an in-depth evaluation of the harm and benefits to all stakeholders, may honestly lessen competition inside the sector. One critical factor that it wishes to remember is coordination with the CCI. The competition regulation especially affords for reference to be made to the CCI to evaluate opposition problems.

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