Amazon counters traders’ protests with $1 billion investment offer


NEW DELHI: Amazon, the e-commerce giant, has sought to counter the protests against the alleged predatory practices by pumping $1 billion into India to help digitize small and medium-sized businesses. Amazon has previously invested about $5.5 billion in India.

Company chief Jeff Bezos made the announcement at a conference in the national capital on Wednesday amid protests by thousands of small merchants across the country. Amazon has previously invested about $5.5 billion in India.

Bezos was quoted by TechCrunch as saying that the company was also eyeing making exports of locally produced products from India — in line with New Delhi’s Make in India program — to be of $10 billion size on Amazon platform by 2025.

“Over the next five years, Amazon will invest an incremental US$1 billion to digitize micro and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before,” said Bezos.

“This initiative will use Amazon’s global footprint to create $10 billion in India exports by 2025. Our hope is that this investment will bring millions more people into the future prosperity of India and at the same time expose the world to the ‘Make in India’ products that represent India’s rich, diverse culture,” he added.

Amazon opened its conference, titled Amazon SMBhav (Hindi for possible, and a play on the word SMB), with videos of poor merchants and craftsmen in India who have expanded their businesses after signing up on the e-commerce platform.

The TechCrunch report said that the company has amassed over 500,000 sellers in India and thousands of merchants in the country who are selling on 12 Amazon marketplaces around the world.

The protest against Amazon was called by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a trade group that represents more than 60 million merchants in the country. The traders’ body said it is organising protests in 300 cities in India.

A representative of the trade group said they want to publicise the alleged predatory pricing and other anticompetitive practices employed by Amazon and Flipkart.

On Monday, India’s Competition Commission opened an antitrust probe into Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart to find whether the two e-commerce giants have exclusive arrangements with smartphone vendors and are giving preferential treatment to some sellers.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

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