The charges leveled by CAIT included predatory pricing, deep discounting, controlling inventory by portals, exclusivity apart from FDI policy violation against Flipkart and Amazon leading to an uneven level playing field between them and offline retailers and traders.
Even as the traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) met the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) along with senior officials of Flipkart and Amazon on Friday against their alleged FDI policy violation and undertaking of other unethical business practices, the two e-commerce companies have instead claimed the role they play in helping small sellers and businesses grow across India along with offering technology and other support while creating employment.
The meeting was chaired by DPIIT Additional Secretary Shailendra Singh and was attended by other ministry officials, Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General at CAIT, Flipkart Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Rajneesh Kumar, and Amazon Vice President Gopal Pillai.
“We highlighted to the senior officials and traders’ representatives how as marketplace we are enabling lakhs of sellers and artisans to connect with customers across India. We highlighted about our deep investment in technology, physical and digital infrastructure, large local data centre and key initiatives like vernacular language, training, on-boarding & logistical support to MSMEs and local manufacturers,” Flipkart Rajneesh Kumar told Financial Express Online.
The charges leveled by CAIT included predatory pricing, deep discounting, controlling inventory by portals, exclusivity apart from FDI policy violation against Flipkart and Amazon leading to an uneven level playing field between them and offline retailers and traders. “We can prove how the two companies have been engaging with these practices based on the evidence we have. The meeting didn’t offer any solution. We will again take this matter with the minister Piyush Goyal and would seek an independent audit on their business models,” Khandelwal told Financial Express Online.
Kumar, however, claimed of “doing business the right way in India” and said that Flipkart would “continue to be willing to work with the government & all stakeholders to promote a regulatory environment that creates balanced growth that is good for India.”
Amazon, for its part, claimed of an “open and transparent interaction with CAIT.” An Amazon spokesperson added that the company “welcome the opportunity to share the success of hundreds of thousands of sellers on our marketplace. We offered our commitment to help onboard CAIT traders to be part of the digital economy.”
The traders’ body has repeatedly stressed on the alleged violation of the laws by the two e-commerce giants at the cost of offline retailers’ businesses. Based on a petition filed by the traders’ body against such violation, earlier this month the Jodhpur Bench of Rajasthan High Court had issued notices to Amazon and Flipkart. “The court has set 15th October for hearing the case before which Amazon and Flipkart have to reply to the notice,” Khandelwal had said.
However, Flipkart had claimed full compliance with the laws. “We’re unaware of the litigation and haven’t received any notice. We’re fully compliant with FDI laws of the country,” a Flipkart spokesperson had told Financial Express Online. Kumar said that meeting with government officials are part of the “healthy dialogue” while it is delighted to support growth in India and create lakhs of new jobs.