An association representing over 1.5 lakh mobile phone retailers in India has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for a ban on Amazon and an investigation into the company’s practices in India, following reports that just 35 of the 400,000 sellers on the platform accounted for two-thirds of sales in early 2019.
The All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA), which says they represent 1.5 lakh mobile phone retailers “providing employment to 7 lakh Indians” and indirect support to 28 lakh people, said in the letter that leaked documents showed that Amazon was doing business in India with the “Strategy of deftly dodging the regulators and politicians” of the country.
Honourable @narendramodi Ji, Amazon dodged regulators, time to #BanAmazon#AmazonBhagao_VyapariBachao .— ALL INDIA MOBILE RETAILERS ASSOCIATION (@AimraIndia) March 1, 2021
In #PressNote3 tighten the noose on all e-com companies to save small retailers of India. @dir_ed @cbic_india @CCI_India @RBI @DIPPGOI @minmsme @JeffBezos @adityakalra #AIMRA pic.twitter.com/hjI9Oa5CwA
The letter references a February 17 Reuters report which cited internal Amazon documents to allege that a handful of big sellers with ties to the company accounted for the vast majority of its sales in India and that Amazon was engaged in predatory behaviour in the country.
The report cites leaked internal documents showing discussions among Amazon employees including a press note for former Obama press secretary Jay Carney, who in 2019 was instructed by Amazon not to mention the 33 sellers that accounted for a third of the value of all goods sold on the platform, but to instead talk up the $5.5 billion the company had committed to invest in India.
Amazon had responded to the report saying it “does not give preferential treatment to any seller on its marketplace” and “has always complied with the law,” the company said in a written response to questions from Reuters. “The reporting appears based on unsubstantiated, incomplete, and/or factually incorrect information, likely supplied (maliciously) with the intention of creating sensation and discrediting Amazon.”
However, AMAI says they have been aware of “unethical and unfair business practices” by e-commerce companies in India for years. Addressing Modi directly, they say in their letter, “These companies were welcomed in India for the growth and development of the Indian traders but instead they have abused your vision of Digital India with total disregard to the sentiments behind it. Companies like Amazon and Flipkart, along with Chinese mobile brands, have colluded to erode the local economy and killed the small retail businesses,” the letter reads.
The letter notes that since 2014, mobile brands have had exclusive tie-up for sales through preferred sellers on these e-commerce platforms. It also accuses Amazon of creating an unequal playing field for small retailers.
“We request your good self to suspend all Amazon activities in India till the regulators complete the investigation. We also beseech you to open a complaint cell for traders to file complaints directly to a single-window to prevent these companies from dodging the regulators again,” the letter says.