Amazon Bezos promises new $ 1 billion investment in India amid setback

NEW DELHI-

Amazon.com Inc.

AMZN -0.40%

director

Jeff Bezos

He pledged to invest an additional $ 1 billion in the company’s Indian operations, part of a charm offensive in a promising but challenging market.

Bezos said at a meeting of local Amazon sellers that the intention is to help smaller businesses start selling in the company’s market. The new funds will complement the $ 5 billion that Amazon has said it is spending to develop its Indian business, a spokeswoman said.

“We are making this announcement now because it is working,” Bezos said Wednesday, referring to Amazon’s efforts to get the legions of Indian family stores to connect to its platform. “And when something works, you have to fold it.”

The Indian business environment has become increasingly challenging for Amazon since its launch in the country in 2013. In the hope of matching China’s success in building technology titans, Indian policy makers have tightened restrictions on US companies. They are making great progress in the Internet economy of the country. .

On Monday, the Indian antitrust agency ordered an investigation into whether Amazon and

Walmart Inc.

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Flipkart has violated competition laws. Among them, the two platforms represent more than 80% of online sales in India, according to

Morgan Stanley.

Amazon and Flipkart say they comply with local laws.

After Walmart closed its $ 16 billion acquisition of Flipkart in 2018, India modified its rules on how foreign-owned retailers can sell products online, forcing Amazon and Walmart to reconnect their supply chains. The rules do not apply to local rivals.

Regulators have also talked about the need for stricter rules for storing user data in India and new regulations governing social networks.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of All Merchants of India, an agency that says it represents millions of national sellers online and offline, has been criticizing Amazon for what it calls unfair practices.

The group said it was conducting protests across the country in light of Mr. Bezos’ visit.

Praveen Khandelwal,

The secretary general of the confederation said in a statement that Amazon’s additional investment would only damage retail trade in India.

Amazon says that India’s online shopping sector has benefited from the company’s effort to involve small merchants and stores.

On Wednesday, Bezos praised the ties between the United States and India and said he believes the 21st century “will be the Indian century.” At the end of his talk, the executive, dressed in an indigo Nehru jacket, clasped his hands and bowed to the crowd with great applause.

After landing in New Delhi on Tuesday, Bezos posted a video on his Twitter account that shows him paying tribute to a monument to the leader of Indian independence.

Mahatma Gandhi.

Write to Newley Purnell at [email protected]

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