- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Wednesday that the retail giant would invest $US1 billion in “digitising small and medium businesses” in India.
- Bezos also said that the most important alliance of this century would be between India and the United States.
- His arrival in India was met by protesters who say Amazon is driving small retailers out of business by undercutting them on price.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is on a trip to India and said he was betting big on the country, even as thousands of protesters there waved placards saying “Jeff Bezos go back!”
During a fireside chat on Wednesday at an Amazon India event in New Delhi, Bezos announced a $US1 billion investment in “digitising small and medium businesses” in India. He added that Amazon aims to export $US10 billion worth of Indian goods by 2025.
“I want to make a prediction for you,” Bezos said. “I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian century.”
He added, “I’ll make one more prediction for you: In this 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the United States, the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy.”
While Bezos’ comments were met with applause, he did not have a unanimously warm welcome in India.
Thousands of small-business owners in 300 cities in India have been protesting since Bezos arrived in the country earlier this week, saying Amazon has used its enormous size to undercut small businesses on price.
India also introduced legislation in 2019 that barred online retail giants such as Amazon and Flipkart, an Indian firm owned by Walmart, from entering into exclusive tie-ups with sellers and offering products through vendors in which they have a direct financial interest. When the new law came into force, thousands of products were pulled from Amazon and Flipkart’s virtual shelves.
And India remains a battleground for Amazon in terms of market share. The company faces fierce competition in India from Flipkart, though it’s close to overtaking the firm – according to Forrester data cited by S&P Global Market Intelligence,Flipkart had a 31.9% market share in India in 2018, versus Amazon’s 31.2%.
Both Amazon and Flipkart are also the focus of an antitrust investigation into whether they undercut small businesses on price.