Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is in India on a three-day visit, announced that the company will spend $1 billion in India to help small and medium-sized businesses go online.
All of this is over and above the $5.5 billion the company has committed to invest in the country already. But Bezos has not received the kind of welcome he would have expected. Traders in 300 cities have planned protests and just ahead of his India trek, the Competition Commission of India has ordered a large-scale investigation into e-commerce operations. This follows allegations by the Delhi Vyapar Sangh, a retail trade group, that e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart are indulging in anti-competitive practices in the country.
To discuss these issues further, CNBC-TV18 spoke with Vinod Dhall, former chairman of Competition Commission of India, Sachin Taparia, Chairman & Founder, Localcircles, Ankur Bisen, Senior VP, Technopak and Ramesh Abhishek, former secretary at Department of Industry and Internal Trade.
Said Abhishek: “The government policy on e-commerce from the FDI angle is very clear that it is basically guided by the FDI policy on multi-brand retail, so it allows only market place model. The draft e-commerce policy is aimed at a comprehensive view on what e-commerce should look like, not only from the FDI angle but from the domestic angle as well.”
Dhall pointed out that this is a controversial issue as allegations are levelled by both sides. There have been complaints earlier but the CCI found that there is no violation of the competition law. But they have ordered a probe to get a deeper understanding of this sector and how the business model operates.”
Ankur Bisen said, “Most of the sellers that are online right now have a very limited supply online. So the argument that e-commerce players make now has justification that it is minuscule of the total e-commerce size.”
Taparia said, “Between e-commerce giants and trader associations, we are fighting for the same pie right now. Our hope is that with Bezos coming in and making that kind of commitment now the ministry will move and start to work on some of the key bottlenecks.”