Thousands protest Amazon in India despite $1bn pledge

Amazon has pledged to invest $1 billion in India while protests across 300 cities in the country called for the company to “go back”.

Jeff Bezos appeared on stage with the head of Amazon’s Indian operations Amit Agarwal at its own Smbhav event in New Delhi yesterday, in a bid to connect with the country’s millions of small businesses.

During the event Bezos promised to invest a further $1 billion into the country, adding that “this country has something special”, while stating that the “most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the United States” in 2020.

This investment would be used to digitize India’s sea of small businesses, with the aim of exporting $10 billion of Indian goods across the world via Amazon.

However Bezos’ presence was met with formidable opposition from The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents more than 40,000 trade associations and a whopping 70 million traders.

READ MORE: Amazon’s Indian expansion under threat by competition watchdog

While he was on stage, the group hosted protests across 300 Indian cities referring to Amazon as “the worst enemy” and calling for both Bezos and his company to “go back”.

CAIT last year accused Amazon, which now has more than 550,000 sellers on its Indian marketplace, of creating an unfair marketplace using its control over inventory.

Meanwhile Amazon’s acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in a unit of Future Group, which would see it acquire a 3.5 per cent share of India’s second largest retailer Future Retail, is coming under increasing scrutiny by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over competition concerns.

India’s retail market is expected to $1.2 trillion by 2021, nearly doubling in size from $672 billion in 2017, while its ecommerce market is due to be worth $72 billion by 2022.

Western retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Ebay are all scrambling to secure their piece of the pie, with Walmart buying Flipkart in earlier this year for $16 billion, and Ebay investing in Paytm Mall last month.

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