Amazon.com Inc warned on Friday that government actions to bolster domestic companies over foreign competition could hurt its business, in a potential reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda. In a routine description of regulatory risks in its 2016 annual filing, the world’s largest online retailer said “trade and protectionist measures” might hinder its ability to grow. That language has not appeared in Amazon’s warning about government regulation in at least the past five annual filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. However, the Seattle-based company has cited trade protection in those filings as a risk to its international sales and operations specifically.
The new Republican president has made job creation a cornerstone of his policies, threatening to impose tariffs on imports so companies produce and hire within the United States. Republicans in Congress also have a plan to target imports while excluding export revenue from U.S. corporate income tax, known as a border adjustment tax. The proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives has divided corporate America. Major exporters like Boeing Co have thrown their weight behind it, but a retail association has said it would raise prices for shoppers.
It was not clear what kinds of protectionist measures – whether tariffs or other actions – concerned Amazon the most, or from which countries Amazon saw the greatest risk. Amazon so far has declined to comment on Republican lawmakers’ border tax plan. It declined comment on the new language in its annual filing, which appeared under the header, “Government Regulation Is Evolving and Unfavorable Changes Could Harm Our Business.” The filing did not mention the change in leadership of the White House. (Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrew Hay)