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India aims at its own feet at WTO meet

Sep 15, 1999

According to newspaper reports, India is likely to push for zero duty on electronic commerce at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). India's eagerness to push through this measure is backed by the surge in Indian software exports over the past couple of years. Any move to impose taxes on electronic commerce transactions will lead to a cooling-off of demand for software, which will adversely affect the software exporting countries.

One prime concern, however, is the decrease in government's revenue collections, as an increasing amount of business activity gets done over the electronic medium. This includes collections by imposing excise duties, customs duties and sales tax on sales. Particularly for India, which has yet to experience a surge in e-commerce transactions, the implications of this move could have serious consequences for the government's fiscal position.

Although, India's move is aimed at supporting the growth of the domestic software industry, the long-term implications for the economy's fiscal position should be taken into consideration. The government should maybe consider imposing duties only when the industry is well established.

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