French lawmakers vote to curb Amazon free deliveries

Oct 03, 2013
An employee works at the site of the online retailer Amazon on December 13, 2012 in Chalon-sur-Saone, France

French lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that will prevent Amazon from offering free deliveries of discounted books.

The bill, designed to support small bookstores struggling in the face of giant online retailers, was backed unanimously in the lower house National Assembly.

It will seek to restrict the likes of Amazon from combining free delivery with discounts of up to five percent on , the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981, the government ruled that editors must set a unique selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers, but added that stores could apply a discount of up to five percent.

The bill will now move to the upper house Senate for consideration.

While the measure is not specifically aimed at Amazon but at all retailers dispatching books by post, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has singled out the US giant's practices in the past, blasting both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements.

The reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the tiny Duchy's relatively low corporation tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

During the parliamentary debate preceding the vote Thursday, Filippetti blasted Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.

"Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said.

The French government has recently been at loggerheads with a number of American companies including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.

Last week, for instance, the country's data protection watchdog announced it would take action against Google for failing to comply with national privacy guidelines—a process that could see the US giant fined 150,000 euros ($204,000).

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