On the last day of a visit to India that is rapidly becoming a public relations nightmare, Jeff Bezos has announced that Amazon will create one million more jobs in the Asian country by 2025.
The CEO, who also owns the Washington Post and is ranked by Forbes and Bloomberg as the wealthiest person in the world, met small Indian business owners this week and rubbed Bollywood royalty at corporate events.
Dressed primarily in traditional Indian clothing, he flew kites with children, laid a wreath at the Gandhi memorial in Delhi and took a selfie on stage during his opening speech at a major corporate summit.
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But his three-day trip was overshadowed by the strong anti-Amazon protests organized by a federation of brick and mortar entrepreneurs, as well as by critical comments from senior members of the ruling party of Narendra Modi and by the launch of a probe in the Amazon’s business model by the competition authority.
Friday’s Bezos statement states that job creation would be accomplished through investments in infrastructure, technology and logistics. A 2018 regulation indicates that Amazon can no longer sell its own-brand products in India and must instead simply provide a market for local producers and producers.
Bezos said the company was “thrilled with what lies ahead” and continued to flow for his praise to India throughout the trip, at one point saying that “the 21st century will be an Indian century” and describing cooperation between the United States and India as “the most important alliance of the 21st century”.
India is apparently not so in love with him. A Reuters report says Modi had rejected Amazon’s repeated requests to meet Bezos during his visit for a photo opportunity for the prime minister.
While CEO took part in a seedy interaction with actor Shah Rukh Khan at a Mumbai event promoting Amazon Prime Video on Thursday, most media outlets focused on the disastrous comments from Indian Trade Minister Piyush. Goyal on stage at a security conference in Delhi.
Rejecting Amazon’s $ 1 billion investment in India announcement made at the beginning of Bezos’ trip, Goyal told the public that “it’s not like they’re doing India a big favor.” He said Amazon has operated with a loss of about so much in the past year, so “if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year, then they have to finance that billion dollars well.”
On Friday, another prominent politician – Vijay Chauthaiwale, the head of the BJP’s foreign affairs department in power – hit the Bezos Washington Post for his coverage of India, which he called “strongly biased and guided.” agenda “.
Without giving any examples, Chauthaiwale said there were “many problems” in the Post’s reports. “I’m not opposing Amazon as a company, I’m actually a regular customer … Jeff Bezos should go home and tell the Washington Post what his impression of India is,” he said.
But it is probably the vocal protest movement against Amazon that has probably hurt the most Bezos, with demonstrators waving the cartel and participating outside the corporate summit it was targeting.
The rallies were organized in 300 cities across the country by the powerful retail lobbying group, the Confederation of All Indian Traders, which claims to speak for 25% of the population dependent on small businesses.
The group says Amazon is putting people out of business with predatory pricing and other “bad practices”. Its national secretary, Sumit Agarwal, has called Bezos an “economic terrorist”.
And on Monday, the Indian Competition Commission (CCI) ordered an investigation into whether Amazon and the Flipkart e-commerce site, mostly owned by Walmart, are using the “exclusive tactic.[s] preclude competition ”.
Amazon said it was “confident in our compliance” with market regulations and “would appreciate the opportunity to respond to allegations made on Amazon.”
Indian shopkeepers have been a key constituency for the BJP since the early days of the party, and Goyal and Chauthaiwale’s comments were widely shared by the noisy party supporters online.
But industry executives warned that it was a risky move that would likely put off international investment at a time when the country’s economic growth is expected to drop to a minimum of 11 years this year already. An unnamed leader of an American company operating in India told Reuters that Goyal’s observation in particular was “clearly unpromising, and will harm the way the world sees India as a destination.”