Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal made remarks criticising e-commerce giants for not adhering to Indian laws and their anti-competition practices.
He said that companies like Amazon and Walmart were taking undue advantage of their scale and access to large avenues of inexpensive capital to indulge in predatory pricing practices which threaten mom-and-pop stores.
At a virtual event organised by Stanford India Policy and Economics Club on Saturday, he said, “A number of these large e-commerce companies have come into India and very blatantly flouted the laws of the land in more ways than one.”
He added that he sensed an air of arrogance in the companies, especially the American ones, after he had interacted with them.
Though he didn’t mention names or the laws they had supposedly violated, one can safely guess the culprits to be Amazon or Walmart’s Flipkart.
Opposition From Kirana And Small Traders
The two giants have been facing backlash from India’s small traders and retailers who are unable to compete with the e-commerce firms’ predatory pricing.
By indulging in such practices, the firms have been accused of circumventing the country’s consumer protection and competition laws.
Both have denied wrongdoing against the country’s network of small traders and shop owners.
Uncooperative With Investigation?
Another allegation levelled against them has been the practice of “forum shopping” in courts and failing to comply with an investigation launched by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
Both appealed against a relaunch of investigation into their business practices by the CCI.
They made the appeal after a judge dismissed their original pleas.
Goyal commented that they should not have any problem with the investigation if they have “nothing to hide” and are following “honest business practices”.
New And Stricter E-Commerce Rules
Goyal’s remarks come in the backdrop of the centre passing stricter e-commerce rules in which popular “flash sales” could be banned.
Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) called on the govt to ensure strict implementation of the rules and not to be swayed by the e-commerce giants’ lobbying efforts.
US-India Business Council, a top US lobby group internally expressed its concerns regarding the new rules.