Modi-Bezos Meet May Be Cancelled


Amazon had reportedly sought an appointment from PMO

Jeff Bezos headlined Amazon’s SMBhav event in Delhi this week

Trader bodies have launched a countrywide protest against ecommerce

Tech giant Amazon’s CEO and founder Jeff Bezos may not be able to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his ongoing visit to India, as has been expected for the past month.

According to an ET report, Amazon contacted the Prime Minister’s office seeking an appointment, but the company informed about the improbability of the meeting last month.

A source told the publication that the Indian government may have canceled the meeting with Bezos to calm fears among Indian traders, who have been aggressively protesting against Amazon and Flipkart for FDI violations, discounting, seller bias and other issues.

With Delhi elections coming up next week, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “doesn’t want to give political ammunations to the opposition,” the report claimed.

The traders have been frustrated with ecommerce platforms — Amazon and Flipkart — and their policies. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), representing many of these traders, had written to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, commerce minister Piyush Goyal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Competition Commission of India (CCI) among others.

Ahead of Jeff Bezos’ visit to India, thousands of small-scale traders union and associations, including CAIT, decide to organise a countrywide protest against ecommerce. Bezos is in India to attend the ongoing Amazon’s SMBhav event to encourage more startups, small and medium businesses, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), weavers, artisans and women entrepreneurs to join its platform.

CAIT has accused ecommerce platforms of not being noncompliant of India’s new foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, which were implemented in February 2019.

The traders body CAIT had highlighted three main violations of the FDI policies. First, the foreign entity funded ecommerce platforms are not allowed to B2C business, where the platform is used to directly selling to consumers through its subsidiaries. CAIT has emphasised that ecommerce platforms, owned by foreign companies, can only take up the role of the mediator with the registered sellers.

Second, ecommerce platforms are able to offer discounts, even though they maintain that they do not control inventory. Third, ecommerce platforms offer discounts ranging from 10% to 80%, which influences the market price as well.

The government had acknowledged the importance of a level playing field and therefore, it decided to update the FDI policies. In addition, the government is pushing for a National Ecommerce Policy, Personal Data Protection Bill, which will also affect ecommerce.

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