'Arrogant' US e-commerce giants flout Indian laws, says Piyush Goyal
Piyush Goyal, India's commerce minister, accused US e-commerce behemoths Amazon and Walmart of arrogance and of breaking local rules by engaging in exploitative pricing tactics. Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has up the pressure on Amazon and Walmart, accusing them of arrogance and breaking local rules by engaging in exploitative pricing tactics. Companies were leveraging their size and access to vast pools of low-cost financing to engage in predatory pricing practises, according to Goyal, "to the disadvantage of mom-and-pop businesses." "A lot of these major e-commerce businesses have come into India and have flagrantly flouted the rules of the nation in more ways than one," he said late Saturday at a virtual event. "I've had numerous encounters with these huge corporations, especially the American ones," he added, "and I can sense a little bit of hubris." Goyal did not identify Amazon.com or Walmart Inc's Flipkart, India's two largest e-commerce companies, nor did he explain which laws had been broken. However, his remarks come at a time when tiny Indian dealers and retailers are accusing the US behemoths of breaking Indian consumer protection and competition rules. Requests for reaction on Goyal's harsh remarks were not immediately returned by Amazon or Flipkart. The traders have levelled accusations against the two businesses, which they have rejected. Goyal also chastised businesses for engaging in "forum shopping" in the courts and neglecting to cooperate with the Competition Commission of India's inquiry (CCI). After a judge dismissed the firms' first pleas earlier this month, the CCI has filed an appeal to reopen the inquiry into their business practises. "Why don't they react to the CCI, in my opinion, if they have nothing to hide and are following ethical business practises?" At a virtual event hosted by the Stanford India Policy and Economics Club, Goyal remarked. His remarks come just days after India revealed a new set of e-commerce laws that may stifle Amazon and Flipkart's aspirations in the country and compel them to rethink some business structures. Separately, the Confederation of All India Traders accused e-commerce businesses of treating India like a "banana republic" with lax regulations in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Despite the lobbying efforts of e-commerce behemoths, the organisation asked the government to guarantee that the new e-commerce standards were not watered down. In an internal memo this week, the US-India Business Council, a top US lobbying group, called India's proposed new e-commerce rules "concerning."