ACCC Chair Rod Sims. Source: The New Daily.
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  • The ACCC has launched an inquiry into the domestic arms of Amazon and eBay, as well as other online markets
  • It’s part of a push to ensure fairness in a sector that’s boomed during the pandemic due to lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home mandates
  • Online purchases in Australia rose 57 per cent last year to $50.5 billion, compared with $27.5 billion in 2018
  • The ACCC said it would take submissions from consumers, platforms and third-party sellers until mid-August to inform its inquiry
  • A final report is due in March next year

Australia’s antitrust regulator has launched an inquiry into the domestic arms of Amazon and eBay, as well as other online markets, as part of a push to ensure fairness in a sector that’s boomed during the pandemic.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which previously hit Facebook and Google with the world’s toughest content licensing rules, said on Thursday it was shifting its focus to retail under a broader crackdown on so-called Big Tech.

“Online marketplaces are an important and growing segment of the economy so it is important that we understand how online marketplaces operate and whether they are working effectively for consumers and businesses,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said

“We want to be sure that the rules that apply to traditional retail are also complied with in the online context.”

The ACCC said it would take submissions from consumers, platforms and third-party sellers until mid-August to inform its inquiry, before a final report is due in March 2022.

A spokesperson for Amazon said the US e-commerce giant looks “forward to engaging with the ACCC on these important topics in the coming months.”

The Australian regulator said it would assess the relationships between large online markets and third-party sellers and shoppers, including competition impacts and handling of data, complaints and reviews.

Despite Amazon’s all-consuming presence in the US, it’s failed to carve out a dominant position in Australia. That said, the company doubled its sales during the 2020 calendar year.

Overall, online purchases in Australia rose 57 per cent last year to $50.5 billion, compared with $27.5 billion in 2018.

The ACCC said it has received a number of wide-ranging complaints, such as the “quality of goods sold on marketplaces, the timeliness of payment remittance to sellers, how goods are put on display on marketplaces, and the level of support provided by marketplaces to consumers when disputes arise.”

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