Indian traders counter Amazon summit with own event

REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Thousands of Indian small businesses will organise an event this week in protest at the business practices of foreign e-tailers like Amazon.com Inc, taking a dig at the U.S. group’s summit with their own event.

Starting Thursday, Amazon is organising a virtual summit in India named “Smbhav”, which phonetically means “possible” in Hindi, to showcase opportunities offered by the U.S. firm to get small businesses to expand and sell online.

Trader groups representing 600,000 sellers said in a statement they will at the same time launch a summit titled “Asmbhav”, or “impossible”, including an award ceremony to pin the blame on those who they think have hurt their businesses.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Indian traders, who are a crucial part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support base, have long alleged that Amazon and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart benefit a few big sellers and that the companies engage in predatory pricing that harms their businesses. The companies say they comply with all laws.

A Reuters special report published in February revealed Amazon has for years given preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian platform and used them to circumvent the country’s strict foreign investment regulations.

Amazon has said it “does not give preferential treatment to any seller on its marketplace”.

The Smbhav event will include more than 70 speakers and aims to allow small businesses to learn how to grow their businesses in India – a key growth market for Amazon.

The event “puts forth how Amazon and our partners leverage digitisation, technology & our ecosystem to drive infinite possibilities for a Digital India”, its website said.

In a statement, trader groups including the All India Mobile Retailers Association said the Amazon event was positioning it as a friend and guide to small sellers, but argued small traders had been harmed by discriminatory practices of foreign e-commerce firms.

The latest dispute comes as India also considers revising foreign investment rules for e-commerce which could force companies like Amazon to rework the relationships it has with big sellers.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.