Amazon not doing India a favour by investing $1 billion: Piyush Goyal

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During a three-day visit to India, where Amazon has its sights set on dominating the burgeoning e-commerce market, Bezos laid out his ambitious plans for Amazon's investment in India over the next five years, including helping to digitise millions of small businesses.

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

Goyal said Amazon is not doing a favour to India by investing a billion dollar, adding that if the company is getting $1 billion to finance losses then the question is "where the loss came from". "And that is certainly an area of concern for every Indian", the minister said.

Bezos, who is in India this week, has sought to meet with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but his request has yet to be approved, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

While this isn't the first time that Goyal has raised his concerns over predatory pricing - the last time he did was in an unusual public exchange he had with United States commerce secretary Wilbur Ross - what has added a new wrinkle to this debate is Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post. "India believes in fair play and equal treatment to all", Goyal said during a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue here.

Every ecommerce player has to follow rules of the marketplace, the minister added.

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He went on to question how the online retailing company was able to incur "such big losses" if not by indulging in predatory pricing.

Amazon has been facing allegation of discriminatory trade practices from small traders. "But they are bringing in money largely to finance losses, and those losses in an e-commerce market-place model (indicate predatory pricing)", Goyal said.

Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently ordered a probe into Flipkart and Amazon for alleged malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers on their platforms.

"We did allow e-commerce entities to come into India in the marketplace model, which is an agnostic platform where buyers and sellers are free to trade", he said.

"Message to investors is please follow letter and spirit of the law". In 2018, India introduced laws barring foreign-owned e-commerce businesses from selling their own inventory and requiring them to be neutral marketplaces, forcing companies such as Amazon to only sell third-party goods from independent sellers. "Whether they are doing it or not, it is for the investigators to decide".

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