Wal-Mart, others seek US govt help on India plans

Tags: FDI, India, US, Wal-Mart, Retail
Amid growing political opposition in India for easing of foreign investment norms in retail and other sectors, US-based companies like Wal-Mart and Prudential Financial are lobbying hard with their own lawmakers here to garner support for their Indian business expansion plans.

As per their latest lobbying disclosure reports filed with the House of Representatives and the Senate, the US-based companies and industry groups spent millions of dollars since the beginning of this year towards lobbying on issues including FDI in India, changes in Indian taxation framework and various other trade-related matters.

Wal-Mart Stores, which has been trying to set multi-brand shops in India for a long time, spent nearly $1.5 million on lobbying in the last quarter ended June 30, 2012 on various issues, including matters "related to FDI in India."

The world's largest retailer's lobbyists presented its case with the Senate, the House of Representatives, the US Trade Representative and the Department of State during the last quarter.

Wal-Mart has been lobbying among the US lawmakers since 2007 to garner support for its plans to enter India and its lobby issue earlier included "enhanced market access for investment" in India."

However, the company's lobbying issues during the first quarter of 2012 did not include India-related matters, presumably because chances had improved at that time for Indian government allowing FDI in multi-brand retail business.

While the government is pushing hard to evolve a political consensus for allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, the opposition has increased manifold in the past few months.

Besides retail sector, the US companies are also lobbying for market access in a host of other businesses. Among these, Dow Chemicals had "Trans Pacific Partnership Market Access - India" as one of its lobbying issues in the last quarter, when it spent more than $3.6 million on various lobby issues.

Financial services giant Prudential Financial Inc has spent nearly $four million so far in 2012 on various lobbying matters, including those "relating to India financial services market access and equity ownership issues".

Other major entities having spent big bucks in the last quarter on issues related to trade with India include Dell Inc, Morgan Stanley, Xerox, Cargill Inc, Aerospace Industries Association of America and Chamber of Commerce of the US.

Besides, Honeywell International is lobbying on "issues related to engine upgrades for Indian military aircraft", and Medtronic lobbied on matters including those "relating to improving medical device regulation in India" during the last quarter.

After FDI, the issue of proposed tax amendments in India has emerged as another major lobbying issue for the US-based entities in the recent months. The US-based Financial Services Forum paid its lobbyist $440,000 during the last quarter alone for issues including its opposition to the proposed tax amendments in the India Finance Bill 2012.

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