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India reverses retail plan

Wed., Dec. 7, 2011

NEW DELHI – India’s government today suspended its plans to throw open its huge retail sector to foreign companies such as Wal-Mart in a decision seen as a major capitulation to political opponents.

The initial decision last month to allow foreign companies to own 51 percent of supermarkets in major cities and 100 percent of single-brand stores was hailed by the business community as a long overdue reform.

The government said foreign retailers would bring better prices for farmers and lower prices for consumers by cutting out middlemen and upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

But opposition parties and even some members of the governing coalition protested against the deal, saying it would crush local mom-and-pop stores that are the heart of Indian retailing.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted Parliament for days in protest.


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