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Michael Otto, German Retailer, Calls for Fairer Taxation
michael otto johannes arlt for HB

Michael Otto, chief executive of the German mail order business of the same name, criticized Apple and Amazon in an interview with Handelsblatt and called for fairer taxation.

He said he “couldn’t understand why it’s the really big U.S. companies like Apple hardly pay taxes. That distorts the competition.” He added, “there’s a lot of talk about the way the wealthy are taxed. I think that commercial taxation should be made fairer.”

Mr. Otto, who is trying to modernize his mail order company to better compete with Amazon, said he wants to see a level playing field. He said that as a German company, he pays workers according to collective bargaining agreements whereas rivals such as Amazon pay less.

In terms of compliance and conditions for workers abroad, he said that companies and governments should together insist that governments enforce fairer processes in developing countries.

Mr. Otto defended trade and commented that free trade deals like CETA and the trans-Atlantic trade pact TTIP are important for Germany. “But these pacts should be negotiated transparently,” he said, adding that people should also be told early on why they matter.

Commenting on the future of retail in Germany, Mr. Otto said that the tough market meant many smaller companies were being forced out of the market and only those able to transform themselves would survive in an increasingly digital world.

Picture source: Johannes Arlt for Handelsblatt