German watchdog launches new investigation into Amazon: report

"Amazon does not contribute to the common good through taxes. It destroys values of the real economy and the environment... all this by eliminating jobs in local shops," according to Dominique Potier, a Socialist MP of the Meurthe-et-Moselle department. [EPA-EFE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL]

Germany’s anti-trust authority has launched an investigation into Amazon and Apple over possible anticompetitive behaviour, German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported.

Amazon bans some third-party traders on its e-commerce platform from offering certain branded products, and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is investigating whether this complies with German law.

“For some brands all merchants with the exception of Amazon itself and the respective brand manufacturer are excluded,” the paper quoted Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt as saying.

Amazon said that it is cooperating with the German authorities, adding it continuously invests to protect its store from illegitimate goods.

Apple and the Federal Cartel Office were not immediately available for comment.

The agreements could offer protection against product piracy. However, bans of third-party dealers must “comply with the principle of proportionality and must not lead to the elimination of competition,” Mundt said.

The most prominent example is Amazon’s cooperation with mobile phone maker Apple, which only Apple dealerships and Amazon can offer on the platform, he said.

The new probe into Amazon’s treatment of third-party dealers comes after Germany’s competition watchdog in August launched an investigation of whether and how Amazon influences traders’ price-setting on its marketplace.

Germany is Amazon’s second-biggest market after the United States. In Germany, third-party traders accounted for 65% of sales in March to May 2020.

Last year, Amazon reached a deal with the German authority to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants, prompting the office to drop a seven-month investigation.

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