PM Modi unlikely to meet Jeff Bezos this time, Retail News, ET Retail


PM Modi unlikely to meet Jeff Bezos this time NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to meet Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during the latter’s visit to India, said two people aware of the development. Amazon had sought such an appointment, they said.

“It was communicated to Amazon last month itself,” said one of the persons.

Ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart have been accused of flouting India’s foreign investment rules and are also the subject of an investigation by the antitrust agency. The companies have maintained that they fully comply with Indian laws.

Amazon declined to comment on Bezos’ India schedule.

The companies have had to amend business models after India tightened rules governing foreignfunded ecommerce marketplaces. This was done in a bid to plug any loopholes following allegations that they engaged in inventory-led ecommerce. The marketplaces can only function as platforms for buyers and sellers.

Protests by small retailers against the ecommerce companies have grown in recent months. Small traders blamed Amazon and Flipkart for a slump in business for the unorganised sector during the crucial Diwali season due to predatory pricing. Small traders also accuse Amazon and Flipkart of flouting India’s foreign investment rules.

Political commentators said a meeting with Bezos may antagonise small traders ahead of Delhi state elections next month. “This will be bad optics for the government and it doesn’t want to give any political ammunition to the opposition,” said a commentator.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an investigation into discounting practices and allegations that Amazon and Flipkart were promoting some preferred sellers, hurting the business of other smaller sellers. Amazon has denied this.

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