Thursday, May 26

Abuse of dominance: mega-fine for Amazon in Italy

Amazon and other US tech giants are in the firing line in Europe over their business practicesMarco Bertorello

The gendarme of competition in Italy on Thursday fined Amazon more than 1.128 billion euros for “abuse of a dominant position” for having discriminated against sellers who had not used its logistics service.

It is one of the largest fines for practices deemed anti-competitive imposed by a country on one of the American tech giants, in the sights of many authorities.

“Amazon has undermined competing operators in the logistics service of electronic commerce,” noted the competition officer in Italy in a statement.

The American colossus of American online distribution had already been imposed a penalty of 68.7 million euros in November for infringement of competition rules by restricting access to the Amazon platform of certain resellers of Apple products.

This behavior is all the more serious in the eyes of the Italian Antitrust as “at least 70% of purchases of consumer electronics products in Italy” are made on Amazon.

Asked by AFP, the American group expressed its “deep disagreement” with this sanction, against which it will present an appeal.

Amazon’s dominant position in the Italian market “has enabled it to promote its own logistics service … with sellers active on the platform to the detriment of competing operators,” the Italian authority ruled on Thursday.

Sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics service are excluded from a “set of benefits essential to gaining visibility and better sales prospects,” she continues.

In this way, the American group “has harmed competing e-commerce logistics providers by preventing them from presenting themselves to online sellers as providers of services of a quality comparable to Amazon’s logistics”, according to the watchdog. .

This strategy has “widened the gap between the power of Amazon and that of its competitors” in the Italian market, he adds.

– Boom in online sales –

The countries of the European Union have increased financial sanctions against American and Chinese digital heavyweights in recent months, in an effort to better regulate their activities.

The digital giants have been repeatedly singled out by the European Commission for practices deemed anti-competitive. Google has thus received heavy fines from the EU, a cumulative total of 8.25 billion euros. A key committee of the European Parliament adopted in November a draft regulation on digital markets (“Digital Markets Act”, DMA) to better regulate the Internet and put an end to the abuses of power by the giants of the sector.

Amazon, which has been riding the boom in online commerce since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic but struggling to recruit to meet its needs and to stock up on supplies, generated $ 3.2 billion in net profit in the third quarter , lower than investor expectations. In the second quarter, the group recorded $ 7.8 billion in net profit, 48% more than a year ago.

At the end of September, nearly 1.5 million people worked for Amazon around the world, 30% more than a year ago, and the firm continues to hire hard to meet the ever-weakening demand. not, despite the lifting of containment measures in many countries.

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