German regulator launches competition probe against Amazon

The German competition authority has opened an investigation into Amazon over allegations that the online retailer was using its dominant position in the market to impede rival sellers on its platform.

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Source: Bloomberg

The Federal Cartel Office, Germany’s national competition regulator, has initiated market abuse proceedings against online retailer Amazon to investigate if the company over complaints from retailers and manufactures selling good through its German website amazon.de

Retailers and manufacturers on Amazon’s platform have complained to the German regulator that the US online retail giant is abusing its market position to the detriment of rival sellers on its marketplace.

‘Amazon is the largest online retailer and operates by far the largest online marketplace in Germany,’ President of the Federal Cartel Office Andreas Mundt said. ‘Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales.’

‘Amazon functions as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ for customers. Its double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform,’ he said.

‘Because of the many complaints we have received we will examine whether Amazon is abusing its market position to the detriment of sellers active on its marketplace,’ he added.

Amazon comes under attack from EU regulators

The probe launched by the German competition authority is not the only investigation underway against the online retailer, with the EU Commission opening their own enquiry over allegations that Amazon is using data it holds on third party sellers to give it a competitive advantage.

The Federal Cartel Office said that its investigation would ‘supplement’ the EU Commission’s probe.

The German regulator said that it will investigate Amazon’s ‘terms of business and practices towards sellers’ and assess how it uses third party sellers’ data and how the online retailer determines which sellers accounts it chooses to block or close on its platform.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley from the Social Democrats (SPD) party said that she welcomed the investigation Amazon.

‘The large internet platforms not only shape our everyday lives, they have also gained significant market power,’ she told business daily Handelsblatt.

‘They must not abuse this dominant position against small traders... And if necessary, the appropriate measures must be taken,’ she added.

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