Thursday, 25 July 2019 12:08

Amazon has destroyed US retail sector: Treasury Secretary Featured

Amazon has destroyed US retail sector: Treasury Secretary Pixabay

Giant online retailer Amazon has destroyed the sector, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claims, telling the news channel CNBC that the Justice Department was right to include the company in an anti-trust review.

The review, which is to take in all big technology companies — which means Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon — was announced by US Assistant Attorney-General Makan Delrahim on Tuesday.

Mnuchin told CNBC: "I think if you look at Amazon, although there are certain benefits to it, they’ve destroyed the retail industry across the United States so there’s no question they’ve limited competition."

And he added: "I think it’s very good that the attorney-general is going to look into this. I think it’s an important issue and I look forward to him reporting back to the president and hearing his recommendations.”

In announcing the review, Delrahim, who is from the department's Anti-trust Division, said: "Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands. The department’s anti-trust review will explore these important issues.”

The department said in its statement: "The goal of the department’s review is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want.

"If violations of law are identified, the department will proceed appropriately to seek redress."

Last week, the European Commission announced a formal anti-trust investigation into Amazon to find out whether the firm's use of sensitive data from independent retailers, who use its marketplace, breached competition rules within the political bloc.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement at the time: "European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don't eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour.

"I have, therefore, decided to take a very close look at Amazon's business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.”

Said Mnuchin: "There’s areas where [Amazon] really hurt small businesses. People had those concerns about Walmart. Walmart developed a business where small business could continue to compete with them."

He said it was not possible to define competition among all big tech outfits in the same way. "I don’t think you can talk about competition among all these companies in the same way. People talk about the FANG [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google] stocks like they’re all the same. Each company is very different.”


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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