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Modi clinches deal with Bezos, Amazon will keep investing in India

June 27, 2017 18:04 IST

Terrific meeting with Narendra Modi. Always impressed, energised by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing,” Bezos wrote on social networking platform Twitter.

US online retail giant Amazon will keep investing and growing in India, said founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, soon after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington DC on Sunday.

“Terrific meeting with Narendra Modi. Always impressed, energised by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing,” Bezos wrote on social networking platform Twitter.

Bezos was one among the twenty-odd business leaders who met Modi in the US. Others included Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook. The US technology giants are vying to grow their businesses in India, the last large open market in the world.

Bezos’ indication that Amazon’s investments in India will keep rolling comes at a time when the company has completed four years of doing business in India and has cornered a sizable chunk of the e-commerce market.

The firm has committed to investing $5 billion in the country, and says so far half of its investments have gone into building infrastructure.

Amit Agarwal, vice-president and country manager for India at Amazon, says that the e-commerce market here was still in its infancy and it would take a lot more investment not just from it but from all players.

His thoughts reflect Bezos’ own philosophy that Amazon is still playing in the “Day 1” of e-commerce.

“We don’t really hold ourselves back based on a targeted investment. We will require a lot of investment as will Indian e-commerce. It is still very early and we should be ready to invest for many years,” Agarwal had told Business Standard in a recent interview.

While Amazon does not break out investment figures by country, losses from its international business shot up to $541 million in the third quarter of 2016.

At the time, the company attributed the loss to its accelerated investment in India, and in the following two quarters, losses have remained high at $487 million and $481 million, respectively.

According to analysts, Amazon spent over $1 billion in India during the fiscal year 2016-17.

That rate of investment is only going to go up they say, as Indian rival Flipkart has finally found long-term investors, and Chinese rival Alibaba is stepping up its game in the country.

While India’s e-commerce market did witness a slowdown in the past year, Amazon says its growth has been healthy.

The company claims an 85 per cent growth in business during the first quarter of 2017 when compared to the same quarter last year.

“The reason I think we’re still growing at this pace is customers are shopping more, Prime members are spending more, new customers continue to come to us.

Amazon.com at its current scale, is still growing at 30 per cent plus, and the US market is 100 times bigger than India. Here it’s so early that I foresee double-digit growth for many more years to come,” he said.

Photograph: Reuters

Alnoor Peermohamed in Bengaluru
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