New Delhi: Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal courted controversy last week for saying Amazon and Flipkart are “not doing a great favour” by investing billions of dollars in India. He said this at a time when Amazon chief Jeff Bezos was visiting the country.
The minister also referred to the probe initiated by fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Amazon and Flipkart, saying this is being done to investigate their business practices.
The minister, however, later said that his statements were taken out of context.
#WATCH Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal speaks on his reported statement '…it's not as if they (Amazon) are doing a favour to India when they invest a bn dollars.” He says, "..My statement should be seen in context. Investments are welcome but they should be within the law…" pic.twitter.com/VboRq0RYLr
— ANI (@ANI) January 17, 2020
Goyal, meanwhile, has been giving interviews to several publications ahead of his visit to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum — scheduled to take place between 21 and 24 January — during which he has spoken about his agenda for the event, e-commerce firms in India, Amazon and foreign investment.
Agenda for Davos
The theme set by the Narendra Modi government for Davos this year is ‘Power of India’ — to showcase the power of democracy, the power of demography, leadership, opportunity and talent.
In an interview, the minister told The Times of India that he has more than 50 engagements with international leaders during which he will discuss investment opportunities, sustainability, industry and manufacturing potential.
At Davos, the big message will be to convey that India is open and has always been open to business, said the minister. Goyal said not a single investor has raised concerns with him as he is in touch with them on a regular basis. And should anyone have any concerns, he would be happy to allay them, the minister added.
Among his engagements are meetings with CEOs of GIC, Temasek, IKEA, Softbank and Allianz, as well as with the chiefs of Visa and Unilever. Goyal will also be meeting trade and finance ministers of Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Mexico, Korea and Singapore.
The minister, however, said that meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was out of the question.
On Jeff Bezos
In a series of interviews, Goyal also said that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos did seek an appointment with him, but there was a “scheduling conflict”.
He further said that while he appreciates Amazon’s $1 billion investment in India to create more than a million jobs, they should be within the ambit of the law and not at the cost of several million others losing their jobs.
Goyal also went on to say that many officials in his ministry had found that quite a few e-commerce companies in India were not working within the ambit of the law. He then said his statement on Amazon was made in light of his efforts to raise the urgency on the issue and was in the best interest of the country and all businesses. He said whatever business takes place should be fair and proper, and not destroy small retailers.
Foreign investment in India
Goyal told Mint that he is meeting CEOs of various companies, which are multi-billion dollar enterprises with worldwide operations, and he hopes to show them and they can already see that India is an oasis because the entire population is aspiring for a better quality of life.
He also said that his message to investors would be that India welcomes foreign investment as it creates jobs and contributes to the country’s GDP.