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.
In Pictures Obama's Asia trip
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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.