'JEFF BEZOS GO BACK!': Here's why people in India are protesting Amazon as the tech giant plans to invest $1 billion in the country

SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty ImagesMobile 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.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Wednesday that the e-commerce giant would invest $US1 billion to bring small businesses in India online.
  • Bezos made the announcement on a visit to India, where he was met with protests by small-business owners from around the country.
  • Protesters said they were unable to compete with the steep discounts that Amazon offers other suppliers.
  • They held signs saying “Jeff Bezos go back!” and one group’s leader said it would fight against “foreign economic terrorists.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Wednesday that the e-commerce giant would invest $US1 billion in India to bring some small businesses online, he was met with protesters who said Amazon would “destroy small retailers.”

The protesters said Amazon offered deep discounts that small and medium businesses in India just can’t compete with.

Sumit Agarwal of the Confederation of All India Traders said on Twitter that Bezos “runs an organisation that expertises in predatory & anticompetitive business.” The confederation has described Bezos as an “economic terrorist.”

Agarwal said protests could reach as many as 300 cities across India.

Protesters held signs that said “Jeff Bezos go back!” and “Second version of East India Company,” a reference to the British company that colonised India, parts of Southeast Asia, and Hong Kong. The theme echoed Agarwal’s comment that companies like Amazon are “foreign economic terrorists & invaders.”

Jeff bezos go backSAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty ImagesTraders hold placards during a demonstration demanding the closure of online shopping platforms Amazon and Flipkart, in New Delhi on January 15, 2020.

This criticism from small-business owners came as India’s antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India, said it would investigate whether Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart gave discounts to “preferred sellers.”

These discounts lead to a “foreclosure of other nonpreferred sellers from the online marketplace,” a document filed by the regulator said, adding that “preferred sellers are also alleged to be affiliated with or controlled by Flipkart/Amazon either directly or indirectly.”

The CCI said e-commerce titans like Amazon were accused of using their market dominance to price “below cost,” resulting in the “creation of high entry barriers and high capital costs for any new entrant in the market.”

Ashok Kumar Gupta, the chairman of the CCI, told Reuters that large e-commerce companies should not provide large discounts and that they should disclose policies on discounts.

Amazon has faced similar criticism in Europe. In 2018, Andreas Mundt, the president of Germany’s antitrust regulatory office, said Amazon’s size and dominance over the e-commerce market gave it the role of a “gatekeeper” to the market. Since Amazon has a “double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace,” Mundt said, it “has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform.”

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