Briefing

Jeff Bezos promises to spend US$1 billion to help Indian small businesses onto Amazon

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At a company summit for merchants in New Delhi, the CEO also said the company is aiming to have US$10 billion worth of export transactions involving Indian-made products through its marketplace by 2025. (LiveMint)

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Talking point: Amazon and other foreign-controlled e-commerce platforms operating in India face a major challenge keeping small merchants happy. Bezos’s Delhi visit was met with protests. Corner-store operators—“kiranas,” in your correspondent’s native Bombay—argue online discounting unfairly undercuts them. Neighbourhood traders are a key political constituency for the ruling party, and it has shaped the country’s e-commerce policy to suit them. In December 2018, it introduced rules targeting listing practices commonly used by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart; in November 2019, it reportedly planned to offer subsidies for small retailers to go online, as well as to adopt accounting software and digital payments. Amazon also needs to court these firms to hold off Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest conglomerates, which this month launched a grocery-delivery service that works with local stores.