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Focus on India — Fuel demand jumped 24% in May; Amazon India seller accuses antitrust agency

MUMBAI: India’s fuel consumption jumped 23.8% in May from a year earlier, continuing a recovery from a relatively low base in 2021 when the world’s third-largest oil consumer was plagued by the second wave of COVID-19.

Fuel consumption, an indicator of oil demand, totaled 18.27 million tonnes last month, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Unit of India’s Petroleum Ministry.

Last month’s increase was the largest year-over-year increase since April 2021. Consumption also rose slightly, by 0.4%, from April.

The yearly increase is “due to a weaker base, as demand in May 2021 was weak due to the high number of COVID cases at that time,” although the monthly uptick was surprising, the report said. Refinitiv analyst Ehsan Ul Haq.

“However, high oil prices are expected to impact consumption over the coming months. High fuel prices do not bode well for motorists around the world,” he added.

Diesel consumption rose 31.7% in May year-on-year to 7.29 million tonnes and was up about 32.6% from two years earlier.

Gasoline, or petrol, sales were up 51.5% from a year earlier, to 3.02 million tonnes.

Amazon India seller accuses antitrust agency

Cloudtail, a former Amazon India top seller, has accused India’s antitrust agency of unlawfully detaining its employees in a raid over alleged antitrust violations, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

Cloudtail, among a handful of online sellers raided as part of an investigation into Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart over alleged preferential treatment on e-commerce platforms, argued in a court filing that the detentions were the cause of the refusal of documents taken during the raid.

“[Three] senior management employees were detained for over 30 hours overnight until the search and seizure operation was completed,” the May 30 filing said. The operation took place on April 28 and 29.

A senior source at India’s Competition Commission, which led the raid, dismissed the allegations, saying it had obtained the required legal approvals and was compliant with the watchdog’s regulatory processes.

The source was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

Cloudtail’s case marks an escalation between increasingly assertive Indian authorities and foreign e-commerce players who, along with their subsidiaries, dominate the country’s booming online retail sector.

(Contributed by Reuters)

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