E-commerce giant Amazon will create 1 million jobs across India by 2025, its chief Jeff Bezos claimed on Friday. The statement came amid strained ties between the Indian government and the company.
“We will use Amazon’s global footprint to enable US$10 billion in exports of Indian products to the rest of the world by 2025,” Bezos said in a letter to Amazon’s customers, sellers and partners. It was posted on the homepage of Amazon.in on Friday. “Our investments in India will create an additional 1 million jobs across the country by 2025.”
The American businessman added: “I fall more in love with India every time I return here. The boundless energy, innovation, and grit of the Indian people always inspire me.”
Bezos, who arrived in India on Tuesday to meet senior government officials and business leaders, said on Wednesday that the e-commerce giant would invest $1 billion (over Rs 7,000 crore) to digitise small and medium businesses in India. The company would use its global footprint to export $10 billion worth of “Make In India” products by 2025, he added.
He also predicted that the 21st century was going to be the Indian century. “In this 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be the US-India alliance,” he added.
But, the following day, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal snubbed the American billionaire and said Amazon was not doing India any favours by investing $1 billion. “They may have put in a billion dollars but then if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year then they jolly well have to finance that billion dollars,” Goyal said at the Raisina Dialogues 2020 in New Delhi. “So it’s not as if they are doing a great favour to India when they invest a billion dollars.”
“Our government has allowed e-commerce entities to come to India under the marketplace model,” Goyal said. “As long as everyone follows the rules, we welcome e-commerce in India and they are happy to trade and serve the people of India.”
“I have on more than one occasion, said this to the people of India and to all investors, that to please follow the letter of the law and the spirit of the law,” he added. “Don’t try to find loopholes when clearly we have articulated what the e-commerce model is.”
On Friday, the minister clarified his remarks. “I was only saying that investment should come as per the rules and regulation,” he told reporters in Ahmedabad. Big retailers should not hurt small traders who do not have “lakhs and crores” of rupees, he added.
“We welcome all kinds of investment,” the minister said. “However, the necessary legal process would follow if any investment is made outside the purview of law. Our government wants to ensure that unfair competition is not created for crores of small traders and retailers of the country.”
Retail giants such as Amazon and Flipkart have been accused by small and medium businesses of unfair trade practices, including use of deep discounts, exclusive launch of mobile phones, and giving preference to select sellers to capture market share. Earlier this week, the Competition Commission of India ordered an investigation into alleged violations of competition law by Amazon and Flipkart, which is owned by Walmart.
Upset with The Washington Post
The Modi government is also reportedly upset with Bezos-owned The Washington Post’s coverage. BJP’s foreign affairs department chief Vijay Chauthaiwale alleged that there was “a lot of problem” with the newspaper’s coverage of India, according to Reuters. However, he did not cite any specific examples.
“I am not opposing Amazon as a company, in fact I am a regular customer,” Chauthaiwale told Reuters. “Jeff Bezos should go home tell Washington Post what is his impression about India...The Washington Post editorial policy is highly biased and agenda driven.”