Obama aims to deepen US economic ties with India. But what about Wal-Mart?
Obama's trip to India includes a Saturday summit with top business leaders. But Wal-Mart, which will be at the table, and other international retailers remain shut out of India's retail sector.
He will address hundreds of business executives from both India and the United States at a business summit Saturday.
But despite the enthusiasm that’s drawn together America’s largest-ever CEO entourage for a state visit, millions of workers in both countries are nervous about losing jobs from greater integration and cost-cutting by multination companies.
Among Americans, concerns about outsourcing have topped 80 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal poll. The numbers reflect frustrations with persistently high unemployment.
In August, the US upped the cost of visas for high-tech workers, some of whom are sent to the US to facilitate outsourcing operations abroad or as consultants hired temporarily by companies in the US.
Fears Wal-Mart could crush India's emerging middle class
US officials have tried to combat perceptions of India as taking jobs from Americans. They cite a study by the India-US World Affairs Institute that tied 96,000 American jobs to US exports to India. Bilateral trade, which is expected to reach $50 billion this year, remains roughly balanced.
Within India, meanwhile, a mass movement has so far thwarted foreign access to the country’s retail sector. Companies like Harley-Davidson and Hewlett-Packard can open stores here, but multibrand foreign retailers like Wal-Mart or Ikea are forbidden.
“When Wal-Mart comes in, if the same growth rate which they achieved in the US is successful in India you would see a [negative] impact on more than 20 million people,” says Vinod Shetty, head of FDI Watch, a campaign to keep multibrand retailers out of India.