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India mulls probe into Wal-Mart lobbying

Published on Dec 11, 2012 11:52 PM
In this photograph taken on Sept 19, 2012, an Indian shopper gestures to a product while a store employee looks on at the Bharti Wal-Mart Best Price wholesale store in Manawala, some 11km from Amritsar. The company is also being investigated by India's financial crimes watchdog over whether it entered India's supermarket sector before the country allowed foreign retailers in. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (REUTERS) - India's government said it was prepared to launch an inquiry into lobbying by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., buckling under an opposition campaign to discredit a flagship economic policy.

Opponents of reforms that allow foreign supermarkets to trade in Asia's third largest economy renewed pressure on the government after Wal-Mart disclosed that it had paid US$25 million (S$30 million) over four years to lobby US lawmakers to help gain access to foreign markets, including India.

The government seemed to tone down its commitment to a probe, however, following contentions that the activities in question were legal under US law.

Wal-Mart has found itself entangled in a fight between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's fragile minority government and political opponents determined to thwart supermarket reform which, they say, will destroy the livelihoods of millions of mom-and-pop store owners.

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