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Bezos to stress 'strikingly large' global retail market, jobs in opening remarks before Congress

Bezos to stress 'strikingly large' global retail market, jobs in opening remarks before Congress
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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosPhilanthropists and billionaires must walk the talk on climate change Jeff Bezos roasted for buying yacht so big it comes with smaller support yacht The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE will point to what he calls a “strikingly large” global retail market and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the e-commerce giant has created over the decades in his opening remarks before Congress on Wednesday.

Bezos is set to testify before lawmakers in Washington for the first time as part of a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that zeroes in on the power and size of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple. The hearing, which will be conducted virtually due to the coronavirus outbreak, comes as the committee nears the conclusion of a year-long probe into the conduct of the companies and whether they have performed in anti-completive ways.

In expansive opening remarks published on Amazon’s website Tuesday night, Bezos is set to focus on his personal background as well as the company's evolution from an online bookstore to a behemoth in both e-commerce and cloud services. 

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"I believe Amazon should be scrutinized," Bezos said. "We should scrutinize all large institutions, whether they’re companies, government agencies, or non-profits. Our responsibility is to make sure we pass such scrutiny with flying colors."

But Bezos will also emphasize Amazon's position in a $25 trillion global retail market that he describes as "extraordinarily competitive." In his opening statement, he points to data that shows 80 retailers in the U.S. earn more than $1 billion in revenue each year and notes that Walmart is "more than twice Amazon’s size."

He'll also argue that Amazon's scale has led to its role as the biggest jobs creator in the U.S. over the last decade. In addition, Bezos plans to address Amazon's success as a marketplace for third-party sellers, estimating "that third-party businesses selling in Amazon’s stores have created over 2.2 million new jobs around the world."

Bezos is likely to face a series of questions about Amazon's dual role as an online marketplace and the seller of goods, as well as allegations that it has used sales data from third-party sellers to make competing products. A report from The Wall Street Journal earlier this year about the alleged practice prompted Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineDemocrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' Republicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Washington keeps close eye as Apple antitrust fight goes to court MORE (D-R.I.), the chair of the panel, to suggest that an Amazon official may have lied to Congress while testifying in 2019. 

“At best, Amazon’s witness appears to have misrepresented key aspects of Amazon’s business practices while omitting important details in response to pointed questioning,” Cicilline said. “At worst, the witness Amazon sent to speak on its behalf may have lied to Congress.”

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Amazon has said that it prohibits employees from using nonpublic, seller-specific data when determining what new products to launch.

Scrutiny of Amazon has heightened exponentially in recent years as the company continued to grow in size. The company was estimated in February to have about 44 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market share. 

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are all the subjects of investigations from Congress and the Justice Department. Wednesday's hearing will represent the first time a contingent of CEOs of big tech companies will appear for a congressional hearing at the same time.