Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has accused US e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Walmart of violating local laws by accusing them of arrogance and indulging in violent pricing practices.
Goyal said companies were using their scale and access to large pools of low-cost capital to engage in predatory pricing practices “to the detriment of mom-and-pop stores”.
“Many of these big e-commerce companies have come to India and have openly flouted the laws of the country in more ways than one,” he said in a virtual event late Saturday.
“I’ve had a lot of engagements with these big companies, especially US companies, and I can see a little bit of arrogance,” he said.
Goyal did not directly name Amazon.com or Walmart Inc’s Flipkart – the two major e-commerce players in India – or specify which laws were violated. But his remarks come at a time of growing uproar from small Indian traders and retailers, who accuse the US giant of bypassing Indian consumer protection laws and competition laws.
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Amazon and Flipkart did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Goyal’s sharp criticism.
Both the companies have denied the allegations leveled against them by the traders.
Goyal also criticized the companies for indulging in “forum shopping” in the courts and failing to comply with the investigation initiated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
Flipkart and Amazon have appealed against the CCI’s bid to resume an investigation into their business practices, after a judge this month dismissed the companies’ original arguments.
“To my mind, if they have nothing to hide, if they are doing business honestly, why don’t they respond to the CCI?” Goyal said at a virtual event organized by the Stanford India Policy and Economics Club.
His remarks came days after India unveiled a new set of e-commerce rules that could undermine the ambitions of both Amazon and Flipkart in India, and force both to review certain business structures. is.
Separately, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, the Confederation of All India Traders accused e-commerce companies of treating India like a “banana republic” with weak laws.
The body urged the government to ensure that the proposed e-commerce rules are not diluted despite efforts by lobbying e-commerce giants.
The US-India Business Council, a top US lobby group, in an internal memo this week referred to India’s proposed new e-commerce rules.
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