US officials rushed to defend Amazon’s business practices in India after Reuters reported in February that the company had favoured certain sellers on its website and bypassed local law that requires foreign e-commerce companies to treat all vendors equally, documents obtained by the news agency show.
Emails obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) showed that US officials prepared a note for John Kerry, a top envoy of President Joe Biden, about the February 17 report. The note, contained in an email dated February 18, said that India’s antitrust watchdog had reviewed many such allegations against US e-commerce companies and found nothing wrong.
Biden’s envoy, former US Secretary of State Kerry, is in charge of climate change policy. He was scheduled to speak that day with India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. The US government was concerned that Goyal would bring up the Reuters story, so it hastily drafted a note about the article in case he did, the emails show.
“This could come up in the call since as you know Minister Goyal is prone to bring up tangential topics,” Thomas Carnegie, a US embassy official in New Delhi, emailed an official at the USTR.
Philip M. Ingeneri, another US embassy official, also told the USTR official in an email on February 18 that he had “verified” the contents of the note prepared for Kerry with Amazon India’s government affairs chief as “true and accurate.” The…