Canada and Germany Add to Amazon’s Antitrust Woes

Posted on August 17, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon with 11 Comments

Canada and Germany have both launched separate antitrust investigations into Amazon’s business practices related to third-party sellers on its e-commerce site.

“The Bureau is examining whether Amazon is engaging in conduct on its Canadian marketplace, Amazon.ca, that is impacting competition to the detriment of consumers and companies that do business in Canada,” a Canadian Competition Bureau announcement reads. “The Bureau is conducting its investigation under the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition Act, with a focus on potential abuse of dominance.”

The Competition Bureau is specifically looking at Amazon policies which may impact third-party sellers’ willingness to offer their products for sale at a lower price on other retail channels, such as their own websites or other online marketplaces; the ability of third-party sellers to succeed on Amazon’s marketplace without using its “Fulfilment By Amazon” service or advertising on Amazon.ca; and any efforts or strategies by Amazon that may influence consumers to purchase products it offers for sale over those offered by competing sellers.

The German investigation is similar but is focused on price-fixing.

“We are currently investigating whether and how Amazon influences how traders set prices on the marketplace,” Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office said. “Amazon must not be a controller of prices.”

Amazon says it blocked some third-party sellers for price-gouging during the pandemic and that it does not set prices.

“Amazon selling partners set their own product prices in our store,” an Amazon statement explains. “Our systems are designed to take action against price-gouging.”

The two cases join a long string of regulatory interest in Amazon on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, the European Commission is expected to file charges against Amazon related to its relationships with third-party sellers. And in the United States, the states of New York and California, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the House Judiciary Committee are all examining Amazon’s business practices.

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