Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos will visit India this week for a company event and potential meetings with government officials, as thousands of small-scale traders are planning to organize protests the American multinational technology company.
Jeff Bezos will participate in an Amazon event in New Delhi aimed at connecting with small and medium-sized enterprises. He has also sought meetings with the prime minister and other government officials, with conversations expected to centre around e-commerce.
Exact details of Jeff Bezos’ visit, including his arrival date and the duration of his stay are not known. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a group representing roughly 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, said it will protest across 300 cities during Jeff Bezos’ stay in the country.
RALLIES AGAINST JEFF BEZOS
Since 2015, the confederation has waged a battle against online retailers Amazon and Walmart-controlled Flipkart, accusing them of deep discounts and flouting India’s foreign investment rules. Both the companies have denied the allegations. Amazon has previously said its platform provides business opportunities to thousands of small sellers, artisans, weavers and women entrepreneurs.
But the confederation is not convinced. “We plan to organize peaceful rallies against Jeff Bezos in all major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata as well as smaller towns and cities,” said Praveen Khandelwal, the group’s secretary general. “We expect to mobilize at least 100,000 traders in the protests.”
With its 1.3 billion population and the world’s second-biggest smartphone user base that relies on cheap data for social media and online shopping, India is a key market for US retailers Amazon and Walmart to grow their business. Discounts on their platforms have helped lure Indians to shop online for everything from groceries to large electronic devices, a phenomenon which traders say has unfairly hurt their business.
Last year, India introduced rules to protect nearly 130 million people dependent on small-scale retail by deterring large online discounts. The rules forced e-commerce firms to change their business structures, straining Indo-US trade ties. The Commerce Ministry is already reviewing complaints and evidence filed by CAIT against Flipkart and Amazon.