President Donald Trump renewed his longtime attack on Amazon.com Inc. with an early tweet on Thursday. But what action can he actually take against the online retail giant?
He could lobby for consumer protection, privacy and antitrust issues. He could also increase his support by allowing states to charge VAT on third-party purchases from Amazon, or trying to get the postal service to charge more for delivery of parcels. And he could thwart Amazon's efforts to win a billion dollar Pentagon cloud service contract.
Even with these powers, Trump's ability to act has limits. Requests by the Ministry of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission could take years and carry a high burden of proof. The FTC and other law enforcement agencies oversee their independence, as does the Post Board of Governors. Changes to the tax code would require the involvement of Congress, which has just completed a tax reform and may no longer be prepared to resume negotiations.
The feud makes the world's most powerful man against one of the largest companies in the world – a global titan with $ 684 billion market capitalization and more than half a million employees. At stake are reputation, sales, and possibly the ability to continue disrupting the markets in retail redesign.
Any move by Trump perceived as revenge against Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for his ownership of The Washington Post would compromise with President Richard Nixon, who threatened the broadcasting licenses at the height of the Watergate scandal ,
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment. While Amazon rose along with most US stocks on Thursday, Trump's attacks helped to boost the headwind of the stock on Tuesday
and on Wednesday. A decline of 8 percent marked Amazon's biggest two-day decline in two years. Lindsay Walters, White House spokeswoman, told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday that there are no concrete plans to crack down on the company. "The president has expressed his concerns with Amazon," she said.
Looking for antitrust investigation into the dominance of Amazon
When the administration opens an antitrust investigation, enforcers would have to show that the company has a monopoly in a market and that it abuses its dominant position. But enforcers are focused on harm to consumers, and Amazon's retail platform is popular with its customers for its breadth and convenience.
Nevertheless, the company is not without criticism. Lina Khan, Director of Legal Policy at The Open Markets Institute, a Washington think tank advocating stronger antitrust enforcement, believes that Amazon should be audited. One problem area is the way Amazon information Utilizing third-party vendors to compete better With these vendors offering to undercut prices or sell their own versions of their products, Khan said.