India needs a national trade policy to help retailers compete globally, Law and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday. “A national trade policy, which should facilitate credit, infrastructure, and modernisation to help traders compete at international level is a must,” he said.

The Minister also said he would request all political parties to include this in their manifestos. His comments came a day after BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi asked the trading community not to run away from global challenges but to adapt themselves to modern practices such as tying up with bigger stores and online trading.

The government wanted traders to compete and expand to the global level for which they need infrastructure and facility as available abroad, Mr.Sibal said at an event of retailers, organised by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

“The biggest problem among traders is of credit. We want traders to compete at the global level. Globally, credit is given at 1 per cent, here you get at 12-14 per cent. You don’t have world class infrastructure and facilities. So, how will you compete?” he asked. The Minister spoke in favour of FDI - an issue vehemently opposed by CAIT - saying that it helps traders to grow scale of business, like the way it happened in the automobile sector.

“When we changed our policy on automobiles, at that time we had only two cars, FIAT and Hindustan, there were concerns about these two companies. Then we brought Maruti and today we make cars here. Indian automobile components makers are supplying to global car companies abroad. We have to adopt a similar thought. I am in favour of FDI,” Mr.Sibal said.

“I want to modernise the trading sector. If someone abroad wants to buy your product online then you will only gain. When business will show standard and price, then a person will compare, trust and buy products. Then people will invest as well. We have to adopt this thought,” he said.

To help traders bring their businesses online, Mr.Sibal in September had launched E-Vyapara. The initiative was in association with CAIT and the Department of Electronics and IT. CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said the organisation is coordinating with DEITY and the trading community.

“What Mr. Sibal said and Mr. Modi said on Thursday is that we don’t need to be afraid of globalisation. I agree but before that you need to upgrade and modernise my traders. There are 15-18 per cent traders who opted for computerisation so far. Unless and until you equip them with necessary infrastructure, how can you expect us to compete,” Mr.Khandelwal said. He added that E-vyapar programme has been launched to spread awareness in the country for upgrade and modernisation. “We are contemplating providing software to traders. Groundwork has been done. Before this election, we will be able to launch E-vyapar,” he said.

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