20 Apr 2012

FDI In Wholesale Trading And E-Commerce Sectors Of India Under Consolidated FDI Policy Of India 2012

This is in continuance of our series on consolidated FDI policy of India 2012 by DIPP. The previous articles in this regard are:

In this article Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) would discuss the FDI limits in wholesale trading and e-commerce sectors of India under consolidated FDI policy of India 2012.

 (i) FDI in cash and carry wholesale trading/ wholesale trading (including sourcing from MSEs), would be allowed upto 100% through automatic route.

Cash and Carry wholesale trading/Wholesale trading would mean sale of goods/merchandise to retailers, industrial, commercial, institutional or other professional business users or to other wholesalers and related subordinated service providers. Wholesale trading would, accordingly, be sales for the purpose of trade, business and profession, as opposed to sales for the purpose of personal consumption. The yardstick to determine whether the sale is wholesale or not would be the type of customers to whom the sale is made and not the size and volume of sales. Wholesale trading would include resale, processing and thereafter sale, bulk imports with ex-port/ex-bonded warehouse business sales and B2B e-Commerce.

The following Guidelines for Cash and Carry Wholesale Trading/Wholesale Trading (WT) would apply:

(a) For undertaking WT, requisite licenses/registration/ permits, as specified under the relevant Acts/Regulations/Rules/Orders of the State Government/Government Body/Government Authority/Local Self-Government Body under that State Government should be obtained.

(b) Except in case of sales to Government, sales made by the wholesaler would be considered as cash and carry wholesale trading/wholesale trading with valid business customers, only when WT are made to the following entities:

(i) Entities holding sales tax/ VAT registration/service tax/excise duty registration; or

(ii) Entities holding trade licenses i.e. a license/registration certificate/membership certificate/registration under Shops and Establishment Act, issued by a Government Authority/ Government Body/ Local Self-Government Authority, reflecting that the entity/person holding the license/ registration certificate/ membership certificate, as the case may be, is itself/ himself/herself engaged in a business involving commercial activity; or

(iii) Entities holding permits/license etc. for undertaking retail trade (like tehbazari and similar license for hawkers) from Government Authorities/Local Self Government Bodies; or

(iv) Institutions having certificate of incorporation or registration as a society or registration as public trust for their self consumption.

An Entity, to whom WT is made, may fulfill any one of the 4 conditions.

(c) Full records indicating all the details of such sales like name of entity, kind of entity, registration/license/permit etc. number, amount of sale etc. should be maintained on a day to day basis.

(d) WT of goods would be permitted among companies of the same group. However, such WT to group companies taken together should not exceed 25% of the total turnover of the wholesale venture

(e) WT can be undertaken as per normal business practice, including extending credit facilities subject to applicable regulations.

(f) A Wholesale/Cash and carry trader cannot open retail shops to sell to the consumer directly.

FDI in E-commerce activities is allowed upto 100% through Automatic route. E-commerce activities refer to the activity of buying and selling by a company through the e-commerce platform. Such companies would engage only in Business to Business (B2B) e-commerce and not in retail trading, inter-alia implying that existing restrictions on FDI in domestic trading would be applicable to e-commerce as well.

FDI in test marketing of such items for which a company has approval for manufacture is allowed upto 100% through government approval route, provided such test marketing facility will be for a period of two years, and investment in setting up manufacturing facility commences simultaneously with test marketing.

FDI in Single Brand product retail trading is allowed upto 100% through government approval route. For this purpose:

(1) Foreign Investment in Single Brand product retail trading is aimed at attracting investments in production and marketing, improving the availability of such goods for the consumer, encouraging increased sourcing of goods from India, and enhancing competitiveness of Indian enterprises through access to global designs, technologies and management practices.

(2) FDI in Single Brand product retail trading would be subject to the following conditions:

(a) Products to be sold should be of a Single Brand only.

(b) Products should be sold under the same brand internationally i.e. products should be sold under the same brand in one or more countries other than India.

(c) Single Brand product-retail trading would cover only products which are branded during manufacturing.

(d) The foreign investor should be the owner of the brand.

(e) In respect of proposals involving FDI beyond 51%, mandatory sourcing of at least 30% of the value of products sold would have to be done from Indian small industries/ village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen‘. 'Small industries' would be defined as industries which have a total investment in plant and machinery not exceeding US $ 1.00 million. This valuation refers to the value at the time of installation, without providing for depreciation. Further, if at any point in time, this valuation is exceeded, the industry shall not qualify as a 'small industry' for this purpose. The compliance of this condition will be ensured through self-certification by the company, to be subsequently checked, by statutory auditors, from the duly certified accounts, which the company will be required to maintain.

(3) Application seeking permission of the Government for FDI in retail trade of Single Brand products would be made to the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance (SIA) in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. The application would specifically indicate the product/ product categories which are proposed to be sold under a Single Brand. Any addition to the product/ product categories to be sold under Single Brand would require a fresh approval of the Government.

(4) Applications would be processed in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, to determine whether the products proposed to be sold satisfy the notified guidelines, before being considered by the FIPB for Government approval.