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US antitrust officials investigate Amazon’s marketplace practices

E-commerce

While the Competition Commission of India dismissed All India Online Vendor’s Association’s (AIOVA) complaint that Flipkart used its dominant position to favour certain sellers through “unfair or discriminatory pricing”, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of USA has reportedly begun interviewing small sellers on Amazon to ascertain if the company is using its market power to hurt competition, Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg reported. Why is this important? For a lot of sellers, as the reports point out, 90% or more of their sales come from Amazon, because of which thy are vulnerable to Amazon’s demands and abrupt changes in policy. Has FTC announced the investigation? While the FTC doesn’t usually confirm the individual companies until the investigation has concluded, these interviews indicate that the FTC is in the early stages of a serious investigation. It is currently learning how Amazon works with the intent of identifying illegal practices, and identifying Amazon-dominated markets. What is FTC asking? As per the report, several attorneys and at least one economist, in their 90-minute long interviews, asked three merchants what percentage of revenue their businesses derived from Amazon versus other online marketplaces such as Walmart and eBay. What are other issues with Amazon? Whether Amazon has an unfair advantage over third party merchants when it competes with them to sell similar products on its own platform, Bloomberg said. Is Amazon the only one to abuse its market power? No. The Justice Department is investigating Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon to check if they are…

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