Jeff Bezos Tells Congress Rest of World 'Would Love Even the Tiniest Sip of the Elixir We Have Here in the U.S.'

Amazon CEO and the world's richest man Jeff Bezos is set to defend his business during a congressional antitrust hearing today, staunchly praising America while saying that his vast tech and retail empire deserves to be scrutinized.

The 56-year-old billionaire will face a grilling from politicians investigating concerns that major U.S. technology companies have violated law promoting fair competition, and will testify via video link alongside CEOs from Facebook, Google and Apple.

The hearing—broadcast via livestream—is being led by the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, which has been investigating the firms for a year. Bezos' statement was made available today on the House Judiciary website.

Similar to Zuckerberg, the Amazon boss embraced patriotic language for his first-ever Congress appearance, meticulously detailing his background and the ways his company provides jobs, opportunities for entrepreneurs and economic investment.

He will say: "It's not a coincidence that Amazon was born in this country. More than any other place on Earth, new companies can start, grow, and thrive here in the U.S.

"Of course, this great nation of ours is far from perfect," he will continue. "Even as we remember Congressman John Lewis and honor his legacy, we're in the middle of a much-needed race reckoning. We also face the challenges of climate change and income inequality, and we're stumbling through the crisis of a global pandemic.

"Still, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the U.S. Immigrants... see what a treasure this country is—they have perspective and often see it even more clearly than those of us who were lucky enough to be born here."

According to the statement, Bezos will say Amazon has invested more than $270 billion in the U.S. over the last decade while stressing his company is constantly facing its own competition from "established players" like Target, Costco and Walmart.

Bezos' opening statement read: "The global retail market we compete in is strikingly large and extraordinarily competitive. Amazon accounts for less than 1 percent of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4 percent of retail in the U.S. Unlike industries that are winner-take-all, there's room in retail for many winners."

While Amazon has faced criticism over working conditions and COVID-19 protections, antitrust concerns largely focus on its relationship with third party sellers.

In April, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) appealed for Attorney General William Barr to launch a probe into the company after The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon employees had used data from such vendors to boost competitiveness of their branded items.

"Recent reports suggest that Amazon has engaged in predatory and exclusionary data practices to build and maintain a monopoly," Hawley wrote.

"These practices are alarming for America's small businesses even under ordinary circumstances. But at a time when most small retail businesses must rely on Amazon because of coronavirus-related shutdowns, predatory data practices threaten these businesses' very existence," he added in a letter, CNBC reported.

In November last year, Amazon told Congress that it uses "aggregated data" from such external sellers that could influence its own branded products.

Based on his opening statement, Bezos has the statistics and research to brush aside many accusations of antitrust violations by the congressional members.

"I know what Amazon could do when we were 10 people. I know what we could do when we were 1,000 people, and when we were 10,000 people," he will say.

"I know what we can do today when we're nearly a million. I love garage entrepreneurs, I was one. But, just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones. There are things small companies simply can't do. I don't care how good an entrepreneur you are, you're not going to build an all-fiber Boeing 787 in your garage."

He will add: "I believe Amazon should be scrutinized. 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."

The following graphic, provided by Statista, shows Amazon lobbying expenditure has surged amid political antitrust scrutiny over the years, between 2010 and 2020.

How to watch: The congressional hearing will stream today at 12 p.m. ET (4 p.m. UTC) and is available to watch on the Judiciary Committee website and YouTube.

Tech Giants - Lobbying Spend
The graphic shows tech company lobbying spend amid antitrust scrutiny by politicians. Statista
Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, founder and Chief Executive of and owner of The Washington Post, participates in a conversation during the event "Transformers: Pushing the Boundaries of Knowledge," May 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty

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