After supermarket giant Wal-mart, it is online retail major Amazon that has started lobbying with US lawmakers for facilitating foreign direct investment in India. According to lobby disclosure reports filed with the US Senate, Amazon.com and its group entities, including Amazon Corporate LLC, have been lobbying on various issues since at least 2000.
However, it was only the last quarter when its lobbying issues included ‘foreign direct investment in India’, shows a disclosure report dated January 22, 2014.
During this quarter, Amazon spent a total of $960,000 (over R 6 crore) on numerous lobbying issues, including "issues related to free trade agreements", "transaltantic trade and investment partnership" as also matters relating to various Acts and proposals.
Among others, Amazon lobbied with the US Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State and the US House of Representatives on these issues.
In 2013, Amazon spent a total of $3.45 million on lobbying. Such expenses had been rising since 2000, when it began lobbying, shows the disclosure reports filed with the Senate.
Total lobbying expenses during these 13 years exceed $21.5 million, but any Indian issue has figured among the "specific lobbying issues" in these reports for the first time ever.
Amazon's lobbying comes at a time when the Indian government has floated a discussion paper on allowing FDI into e-commerce retail. A final decision would be taken after taking into account responses to this discussion paper.
Earlier in November 2013, Amazon had said it is 'engaging' with the Indian government for relaxing FDI norms in the e-commerce space, saying such a move would help it begin "retailing products" as well in addition to its current marketplace business model.
The company launched operations in India in June last year with its marketplace model, under which Amazon.in does not sell products directly to customers but only provides a platform to sellers.
The issue of lobbying for FDI in India had snowballed into a major political controversy late in 2012, after such disclosures by Wal-mart came to the fore.