Bezos met top businessmen, including Mukesh Ambani, Narayana Murthy and Kishore Biyani on Friday
Day after saying investment not a favour for India, Goyal tempers criticism
New Delhi: Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos wound up a three-day visit to India by promising to create a million jobs by 2025, as trade minister Piyush Goyal stepped back from his criticism of the world’s richest man, saying he welcomes his pledge to invest $1 billion in Asia’s third largest economy.
“It’s still Day 1," the American billionaire said on the final day of his India visit in a direct message to “customers, sellers and partners" posted on Amazon.in promising more jobs, exports and investments.
In a media statement issued by the American retailer earlier in the day, Amazon said it plans to create these jobs through “continued investments in technology, infrastructure, and its logistics network. The jobs–created both directly and indirectly–will be across industries, including information technology, skill development, content creation, retail, logistics, and manufacturing."
These million jobs will be in addition to the 700,000 Amazon’s investments have already enabled over the last six years in India, the retailer added.
The announcement follows Bezos’ promise on Wednesday to investing $1 billion in India to help small businesses digitise.
Bezos’s trip to India has been marked by twists and turns, with the jobs-and-investment pledge made in the face of a traders’ revolt against the steep discounts given by online retailers. Just before his arrival, the competition watchdog on Tuesday announced a probe into Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart for alleged violation of competition rules, including discounting offers and promoting “preferred sellers".
On Thursday, Goyal said companies such as Amazon are not doing the country a favour by investing in India. “They may have put in a billion dollars, but if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year, then jolly well they have to finance that billion dollars," he said.
On Friday, Goyal clarified his comment and said he does not have a problem with investments from e-commerce firms as long as they stick to regulatory guidelines.
“Some people interpreted my yesterday’s (Thursday) statement as if I said anything negative against Amazon. If you look at the context of what I said, I was trying to convey that investments should come within the rules and regulations. It is the same everywhere in the world. We welcome investment within those rules and regulations. But because of that investment, an unfair competition should not be created for the small kirana stores. They don’t get loans at zero interest rate, they don’t have millions of rupees, they do their business with small investments. We want the investment to come within the set legal criteria," Goyal told reporters in Ahmedabad.
Bezos is unlikely to have met political leaders or government officials during this visit, but on Friday met with a string of top industrialists and businessmen, including Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy and Future Group founder Kishore Biyani. They discussed business opportunities in India, and India’s retail landscape, according to a person privy to the meeting.
In his note to “customers, sellers, and partners", Bezos spoke of his admiration for the country that has rapidly scaled up to become the largest market for Amazon’s streaming platform Prime Video.
“I fall more in love with India every time I return here. The boundless energy, innovation, and grit of the Indian people always inspire me," Bezos said.
“I’m excited to share that we will invest an incremental $1 billion to digitize micro and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before. As part of this initiative, we will use Amazon’s global footprint to enable $10 billion in exports of Indian products, to the rest of the world by 2025. Our investments will create an additional million jobs across the country by 2025."