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Exclusive: India plan for tighter e-commerce rules faces internal government dissent – documents

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By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s plan to tighten rules on its fast-growing e-commerce market has run into internal government dissent, memos reviewed by Reuters show, with the Ministry of Finance describing some proposals as “excessive” and “without economic rationale”.

The memos offer a rare glimpse of high-stakes policy-making governing a market already featuring global retail heavyweights from Amazon to Walmart, plus domestic players like Reliance Industries and Tata Group. The sector is forecast by Grant Thornton to be worth $188 billion by 2025.

It’s not clear how the objections from the finance ministry – a dozen in total – will ultimately be reflected in the proposed rule changes, first floated in June https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-plans-tighter-e-commerce-rules-amid-complaints-over-amazon-flipkart-2021-06-21. But watchers of the influential government arm say its complaints won’t fall on deaf ears in the upper echelons of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.

“The ministry of finance raising such concerns would likely spur a rethink of the policy,” said Suhaan Mukerji, managing partner at India’s PLR Chambers, a law firm that specialises in public policy issues.

India in June shocked the e-commerce world with proposals from its consumer affairs ministry that sought to limit ‘flash sales’, rein in a push to promote private-label brands and raise scrutiny of relationships between online marketplace operators and their vendors. There is not yet a formal implementation timeline for the new rules.

Though the rules were announced after complaints from brick-and-mortar retailers about alleged unfair practices of foreign companies, they also drew protest from Tata Group, with more than $100 billion in revenue https://reut.rs/3hQinGB, which is planning an e-commerce expansion.

But the finance ministry, the ministry of corporate affairs and the federal think-tank NITI Aayog – an active player in policy-making – have all raised objections in memos reviewed by Reuters, saying the proposals go far beyond their stated aim of protecting consumers and also lack regulatory clarity.

An Aug. 31 memo from the Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs said the rules appeared “excessive” and would hit a sector that could boost job creation as well as tax revenue.

“The proposed amendments are likely to have significant implications/restrictions on a sunrise sector and ‘ease of doing business’,” said the three-page memo. “Care needs to be taken to ensure that the proposed measures remain ‘light-touch regulations’.”

The finance ministry did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

A spokesman for India’s consumer affairs ministry said in a statement that “internal discussions among various stakeholders including government agencies is (a) sign of mature and healthy decision making process in a democracy.”

‘UNPREDICTABILITY’ IN POLICY-MAKING

Voicing its own objections on July 6, NITI Aayog’s vice chairman, Rajiv Kumar, wrote to Piyush Goyal, who is minister for commerce as well as consumer affairs minister, saying the rules could hit small businesses.

“Moreover, they send the message of unpredictability and inconsistency in our policy-making,” Kumar wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters.

Minister Goyal and NITI Aayog’s Kumar did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The arguments put forth by the finance ministry and NITI Aayog are in line with concerns raised by sector operators, and even the U.S. government https://reut.rs/2n6rBoM. They say New Delhi has in recent years changed e-commerce policies too often and taken a hard-line regulatory approach that especially hurts American players.

But Indian consumer affairs minister Goyal https://reut.rs/39lsazN and brick-and-mortar retailers disagree and have repeatedly said big U.S. firms have bypassed Indian laws https://reut.rs/3EBODqI and their practices hurt small retailers.

The consumer affairs ministry has said the new rules were aimed to “further strengthen the regulatory framework” and were issued after complaints of “widespread cheating and unfair trade practices being observed in the e-commerce ecosystem.”

Its statement said a large number of state governments, industry bodies, e-commerce companies and others have supported the regulations and the ministry wants to have the best workable rules for consumers and business.

FLASH SALES, REGULATORY OVERLAP

But the proposals have met with resistance in more than one ministry.

In a July 22 memo, the corporate affairs ministry objected to one proposed clause to be enshrined in new rules that says e-commerce firms should not abuse their dominant position in India. The ministry said the provision was “unnecessary and superfluous”, and that the subject was best handled by India’s antitrust watchdog.

“It is undesirable to introduce a mini-competition law regime in the consumer” rules, said the memo. The corporate affairs ministry did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The finance ministry has taken a much harder stance on the proposals and raised a total of 12 objections.

Among them, it said, a proposal that makes online shopping websites liable for its sellers’ mistakes would be a “huge dampener” and could force companies “to revisit their basic business models”.

It also lodged a protest against the banning of flash sales, which see deep discounts on offer on websites like Amazon and are popular during festive seasons.

“This is a normal trade practice. The proposed restriction … seems without economic rationale,” the ministry wrote.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Proximity labeling: an enzymatic tool for spatial biology

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In this Forum, we highlight how cutting-edge, proximity-dependent, enzymatic labeling tools, aided by sequencing technology developments, have enabled the extraction of spatial information of proteomes, transcriptomes, genome organization, and cellular networks. We also discuss the potential applications of proximity labeling in the unexplored field of spatial biology in live systems.

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Synthetic biology applications of the yeast mating signal pathway

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Glossary

Central carbon metabolism (CCM)

as the main source of energy, CCM oxidizes carbon through glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle.

Chassis

a cell host or an organism for the production of biochemicals such as enzymes by introducing synthetic modules or devices into the cell.

Circuit

an assembly of biological parts that enables cells to perform logical functions, such as genetic switches, oscillators, and logic gates.

Convolutional neural network

a class of artificial neural networks with multiple building blocks that automatically and adaptively learn spatial hierarchies of features through back-propagation.

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)

a genome-editing tool in which CRISPR-associated nuclease 9 (Cas9)–guide RNA (gRNA) complexes recognize a protospacer adjacent motif through base-pairing and then cleave the target DNA,

CRISPR activation or interference (CRISPRa/i)

a tool that uses dead Cas protein and gRNA to activate or repress genes, resulting in gene upregulation or downregulation, respectively.

Cubic ternary complex model

an equilibrium model that describes the interactions between receptor and ligand. This model simulates the interactions of G proteins and receptors in both their active and inactive conformations.

G proteins

heterotrimeric G protein complexes are composed of α, β and γ subunits. Replacement of GDP by GTP in Gα causes a conformational change that dissociates the Gβγ subunits, leading to the activation of downstream signaling.

G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)

a generic class of versatile, seven transmembrane-domain proteins that regulate a diverse array of intracellular signaling cascades in response to hormones, neurotransmitters, and other stimuli.

Karyogamy

a cascade of molecular events that finally lead to fusion of the nuclei and the formation of diploid cells.

Metabolic engineering

a new scientific field that combines multi-gene recombination technology with metabolic regulation and biochemical engineering to overproduce desired products.

Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs)

a family of serine/threonine kinases that convert extracellular signals into a diverse range of cellular responses.

Omics

studies include genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics that characterize and quantify pools of biological molecules, and together give rise to the field of integrative genetics.

Oscillator

a genetic circuit where oscillation is generated by the inhibition and activation of transcriptional/translational feedback loops.

Pheromone-response element (PRE)

a cis element that is present in multiple copies in the promoters of a variety of pheromone-responsive genes; PREs interact with Ste12 to initiate the transcription of pheromone-induced genes.

Quorum sensing

a cell density-dependent phenomenon in which cells adapt their behavior by synthesizing, secreting, perceiving, and reacting to small diffusible signaling molecules termed autoinducers.

Scaffold protein

proteins that recruit other proteins to form a functional unit, thus enhancing signaling efficiency and fidelity.

Ste5ΔN-CTM

a Ste5 mutant that lacks the Gβγ-binding site because its N-terminus has been truncated; Ste5ΔN-CTM is no longer recruited to the plasma membrane following pheromone treatment.

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Biotechnology of functional proteins and peptides for hair cosmetic formulations

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    Source: https://www.cell.com/trends/biotechnology/fulltext/S0167-7799(21)00213-4?rss=yes

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    VW’s 9-month electric vehicle deliveries to China more than triple

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    FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s deliveries of battery-powered electric vehicles to China more than tripled in the first nine months of the year, the carmaker said on Friday, less than two months after it flagged the need to change its e-car strategy there.

    Deliveries of battery electric vehicles (BEV) to the world’s largest car market stood at 47,200 in the January-September period, up from 15,700 in the same period last year.

    “As planned, we significantly accelerated the BEV market ramp-up in China in the third quarter, and we are on track to meet our target for the year of delivering 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles of the ID. model family,” Christian Dahlheim, head of group sales, said.

    Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess in July said the carmaker had to change its approach to how it markets its BEVs in China after first-half deliveries stood at just 18,285.

    (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

    Image Credit: Reuters

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    Source: https://datafloq.com/read/vws-9-month-electric-vehicle-deliveries-china-triple/18644

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