Amazon said on Friday it planned to create 1 million jobs in India by 2025, a day after the country’s trade minister said the e-commerce giant’s recently unveiled $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) investment in the country was no big favour.
The Jeff Bezos-owned e-commerce and cloud computing giant said it would create new jobs in India through investments in infrastructure, technology and logistics.
The company is facing mounting criticism from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which accuse Amazon of violating Indian law by racking up billions of dollars in losses to fund deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers. The company denies the allegations.
In Amazon's statement on Friday announcing the job-creation plans, Mr Bezos - who is visiting India - said "we're excited about what lies ahead". But street protests this week by small retailers and adverse comments from politicians have made Mr Bezos's visit a public relations nightmare.
India last year enforced stringent rules for foreign investment in e-commerce which forced Amazon to rework its business structures and strained ties between New Delhi and Washington.
In recent months, the government has said it is concerned about issues raised by India's retailers who say they've been hit by Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart, which they accuse of flouting regulations and burning billions of dollars to offer steep discounts.
India's anti-trust body this week launched a probe into both Amazon and Flipkart.
On Thursday, Mr Bezos attended a company event in Mumbai with Bollywood actors such as Shah Rukh Khan and said the company would "double down" its investments on its video streaming service, Prime Video.
But the event was largely overshadowed by comments made by India's trade minister Piyush Goyal, who raised questions about the company's business practices while addressing a security conference in New Delhi. He said Amazon had not done India a favour by announcing a new $1bn investment.
Industry executives and their advisers said that Mr Goyal's remarks were likely to put off foreign investors, denting India's economic growth which is already projected to fall to a 11-year low this year.
"This clearly is unbecoming, and it will hurt how the world views India as a destination," said a senior executive of a US-based company operating in India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party on Friday also slammed editorial policies of Mr Bezos-owned Washington Post. Vijay Chauthaiwale, the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party's foreign affairs department, said there were "a lot of problems" with the newspaper's coverage of India, without giving any specific examples.