Amazon’s $1 billion investment in India is no big favor, trade minister says


Mobile dealers and members of Ahmedabad Mobile Dealer’s Association hold placards as they protest against online shopping platform Amazon outside their closed mobile shops in Ahmedabad on January 15, 2020.

Sam Panthaky | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon hasn’t done India any big favors by investing $1 billion in the country, its trade minister said on Thursday, laying bare the tensions with the U.S. online retail giant during a visit by its CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon and Walmart‘s Flipkart are facing mounting criticism from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which accuse the U.S. giants of violating Indian law by racking up billions of dollars of losses to fund deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers. The companies deny the allegations.

“They may have put in a billion dollars but then if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year then they jolly well have to finance that billion dollars,” Indian trade minister Piyush Goyal told a security conference in New Delhi.

“So it’s not as if they are doing a great favor to India when they invest a billion dollars.”

Bezos, who is currently in India, said on Wednesday Amazon would invest $1 billion to bring small businesses online in the country, seen as part of the company’s efforts to dispel criticism.

Ahead of Bezos’ visit, the Competition Commission of India launched a probe into Amazon and Flipkart to look at allegations of deep discounts and whether the companies discriminate against small sellers.

Goyal said the allegations were “an area of concern for every Indian.”

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