Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said on Wednesday that his company will invest $1 billion (Rs 7,082 crore at $1 = Rs 70.82) to bring small and medium-sized businesses online in India. Jeff Bezos, who is in New Delhi for the US-based e-commerce major's Smbhav summit, also said Amazon will use its "size, scope and scale" to export India-made goods worth $10 billion by 2025. Mr Bezos' India visit comes Bezos' visit comes amid strident criticism from small business owners who accuse the company and Walmart's Flipkart of unfair business practices. The companies deny the allegations.
The Amazon CEO remarked that the India-US alliance will be most important in the 21st century, which he feels is "going to be the Indian century".
"The dynamism, the energy... the growth. This country has something special and it's a democracy," said billionaire Jeff Bezos.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is in New Delhi to attend a company event - January 15, 2020)
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched a formal investigation into Amazon and Flipkart just hours before Mr Bezos' arrival and trader bodies comprising millions of infuriated small store owners announced demonstrations.
The fair trade regulator said it would probe the deep discounts, preferential listings and exclusionary tactics that Amazon and Flipkart are alleged to have used as anti-competitive levers.
US-based e-commerce giant Amazon has committed $5.5 billion in India investments and sees the country as a key growth market.
(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy in Delhi on January 15, 2020)
Jeff Bezos' India visit, however, is likely to be marred by protests across the country from small business owners who allege Amazon is driving them out of business by offering sharply discounted products and favouring select big sellers on its platform.
The company has maintained it provides opportunities to more than 550,000 sellers to use its platform and grow their business in India.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a group representing roughly 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, has said it will protest across 300 cities during Bezos' visit. There were two protests, one in New Delhi and another in Odisha, on Wednesday.
(Confederation of All India Traders members protest against Jeff Bezos' India visit on January 15, 2020)
Mr Bezos is expected to meet top government functionaries, business leaders, small enterprises and celebrities during his India visit this week. Amazon has described Smbhav as "a first-of-its-kind mega summit" to bring together more than 3,000 small businesses.