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News Roundup: Amazon Caught In FDI Controversy As CAIT Protests Gathers Volume & More

News Roundup: Amazon Caught In FDI Controversy As CAIT Protests Gathers Volume & More

The traders' group CAIT calls for a ban on Amazon in India based on Reuters findings

Amazon head Amit Agarwal said that the Reuters report is ‘unsubstantiated, incomplete and factually incorrect’

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is in talks with telcos on approval of 5G trials

Trouble comes knocking for ecommerce giant Amazon after a Reuters report alleged that Amazon dodged India’s regulations to favour big sellers on its Indian ecommerce platform and bypassed India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) rules for ecommerce marketplaces. 

Traders’ groups have been accusing Amazon India of anti-competitive practice and violating FDI norms for years now and the report has given this opposition more volume. The Confederation of All-India Traders (CAIT) has now called for a ban on Amazon stating that the details revealed about the company’s workings are reason enough to bar the company from conducting operations in India. 

Amazon India head Amit Agarwal, on the other hand, said that the report is unsubstantiated, incomplete and factually incorrect. In an email sent to employees, Agarwal stated that Amazon has always been compliant with Indian laws and will continue to do so. “We haven’t seen the document referenced and Reuters hasn’t shared provenance to confirm veracity—the details are likely supplied with malicious intent to create sensation and discredit us,” claimed Agarwal. 

Adding to this, Agarwal said that the company takes its responsibilities towards customers and sellers seriously and have been focussed on digitally empowering businesses of all sizes. 

This development also comes after Amazon announced its localization plans to manufacture electronics products such as its FireTV stick in India. This move was even lauded by the top-most ministers of the Indian government.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing arbitrary case between Amazon and Future Group at the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC), the latter has claimed that Amazon asked for $40 Mn as compensation in exchange for Reliance-Future deal to go through and turn down its right of first refusal. The verbal offer was made by Abhijeet Mazumdar, Amazon’s head of corporate development and private investments, to Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani on behalf of the ecommerce giant. 

Other News: 

  • With 5G trials just around the corner, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are gearing up for a green signal. Recently, the department of telecom (DoT) officials had held a meeting with the telcos to discuss the 5G roadmap. The approval for the 5G trials will most likely start next month. 
  • Earlier this week, the Indian government released new guidelines for foreign and domestic mapping services such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and others, as well as usage of geospatial data and services in India. With the focus on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ the Indian government is looking to democratise the existing geospatial datasets to spur domestic innovation and geospatial technologies in a bid to reduce reliance on foreign resources for mapping technologies and services in the country. 
  • RBI recently released comprehensive guidelines for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), banks and payment service providers as a measure to curb the menace of digital payments outages, frauds and cyber breaches. The central bank has given six months time for regulated entities to comply with the new guidelines
  • As digital outages continue to spoil the mood for digital payment services, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is looking to revamp its technology infrastructure across payment channels, including UPI, IMPS, AePS and NACH. For this, NPCI is looking to complete the migration by the end of 2021, where it anticipates processing over a billion transactions per day. 
  • Tech giant Apple looks to have a bigger allocation from the Indian government for bolstering its manufacturing and incentives in India. Accordingly, the Indian government is planning to announce an outlay of INR 1K Cr ($965 Mn) to encourage more manufacturers to set up shop in India by the end of this month.  Apple is lobbying the government while dangling the possibility of bringing its iPad production to India from China. For this, Apple wants the government to raise the allocation by nearly 3x to INR 20K Cr. 
  • With social distancing becoming the new norm in the post-pandemic world, Delhi Metro has announced its plans to set up quick response (QR) codes for booking tickets. It has also sent out expressions of interest, inviting private companies and startups to bid for contactless ticketing systems.