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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is in India this week. He met India’s prime minister this morning and asked him about Wal-Mart. You see, the U.S. has been pushing India to open up its retail sector to more foreign investment, but India has been slow to respond. Miranda Kennedy has more from New Delhi.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Current Indian law bars foreign retail chains from selling directly to consumers. Secretary Gutierrez is here asking the government to change that.
At the center of the struggle is Wal-Mart. To comply with regulations the retailer has an Indian partner who will own the stores. Wal-Mart will handle the supply chain.
While Wal-Mart may have its foot in the door, the U.S. insists reform is needed.
But first, Gutierrez finds himself dispelling fears that Wal-Mart will be bad for India’s 12 million independent store owners.
CARLOS GUTIERREZ: When you get a presence of an experienced operator, it adds tremendous efficiencies for the economy and for the supply chain. That helps everyone from the farmer, all the way through to the retailer and to the consumer.
Analysts say if Wal-Mart can’t make it work, other U.S. companies are likely to back off from the world’s fastest-growing untapped retail market.
In New Delhi, I’m Miranda Kennedy for Marketplace.
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