For U.S. e-commerce companies, some of the most tantalizing expansion opportunities lie in India. Hong Kong-based investment bank CLSA forecasts that the country’s e-commerce market, now at $3.1 billion, will grow to $22 billion in the next five years. The problem for the likes of Amazon.com and EBay has been the Indian government’s strict rules barring companies backed by foreign money from warehousing their inventory on Indian soil—or selling it directly to the nation’s billion-plus consumers.
After several years of disappointing economic growth, the government is looking for ways to boost foreign investment. India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion published a report earlier in January weighing whether it should relax regulations for online retailing and has asked e-commerce companies to register their opinions by Jan. 30. U.S.-owned companies are pushing hard to change the rules, says Amit Agarwal, Amazon India’s vice president and country manager.