CAIT demands #39;exemplary#39; action against Amazon after 5 US lawmakers seek probe

A file picture of CAIT holding protest against Amazon for selling illegal items on their e-commerce portal. (Image: Twitter @CAITIndia)

A file picture of CAIT holding protest against Amazon for selling illegal items on their e-commerce portal. (Image: Twitter @CAITIndia)

After five US Lawmakers wrote to Department of Justice to probe Amazon’s “potentially criminal conduct” in digital market competition, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on March 11 said it stands vindicated for raising similar stand as concerns in India and demanded “exemplary” action against the US e-commerce major.

The 24-page letter by US lawmakers of the US House Judiciary Committee confirms in detail how Amazon engaged in a “pattern and practice” of misleading conduct that was designed to “influence, obstruct, or impede” the Committee’s 16-month investigation into competition in digital markets, CAIT said in a statement.

CAIT is a union of 40,000 trade associations and has seven crore members.

CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that the CAIT has also taken note of the summary posted by the highly-respected antitrust subcommittee chair David N. Cicilline stating that in the testimony before the Committee, a senior Amazon official wrongly represented that Amazon does not use the data it collects on its third-party sellers to compete with them and does not list its products before third-party products in customer search results.

“Credible investigations demonstrate the opposite.”

“Amazon attempted to clean up the inaccurate testimony through ever-shifting explanations of its internal policies and denials of the investigative reports. It described the reports as based on ‘key misunderstandings and speculation’ that led to ‘inaccurate conclusions’. The Committee uncovered evidence from former Amazon employees, and former and current sellers, that corroborated the reports claims,” Rep. Cicilline has said, rightly.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said “now that the 24-page letter is in public domain, it is incumbent upon Indian regulatory agencies to wake up and take immediate cognizance on how Amazon engaged in a ‘pattern and practice’ of misleading conduct that appeared designed to ‘influence, obstruct, or impede’ the Committee’s 16-month investigation into competition in digital markets.

Earlier on March 5, the Competition Commission had disposed of a complaint alleging unfair business practices by Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd and certain other related entities, saying that the allegations are devoid of requisite evidence. The complaint was filed by All India Online Vendors Association against Amazon Seller Services, Amazon Wholesale India, Amazon Retail India, Cloudtail India and Prione Business Services, PTI had reported.

This association comprises more than 2,000 sellers across the country, with its members selling various products on e-commerce marketplaces.

According to the association, there exist anti-competitive arrangements amongst the entities, resulting in alleged lack of platform neutrality on Amazon’s India website.

The association had alleged that the entities’ conduct fall under vertical restraint and has levelled allegations of “deep discounting” and “lack of platform neutrality” on the entities. It further said that Amazon Wholesale, in collusion with Amazon Retail and Cloudtail India sells goods at massive discounts, rendering independent sellers unable to compete on

After the complaint was disposed, CAIT had called the CCI “spineless” and “toothless” for dropping its investigation against US-based ecommerce titan Amazon, news agency IANS had reported.

It also termed the CCI as an “Anti-Trust Regulator”.

“Issues kept pending for a longer and indefinite period and by that time, the gravity of the issue already caused damage to the affected party. The CAIT has demanded an in-depth study of the working of the CCI and remedial measures to make it a more efficient and accountable regulator like TRAI, SEBI” the traders’ body said in a statement.