Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

India to Permit Foreign Retailers in Growth Bid

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

India to Permit Foreign Retailers in Growth Bid

Article excerpt

NEW DELHI - India agreed Friday to open its huge market to foreign retailers such as Wal-Mart in a surprising decision that was part of a flurry of economic reforms aimed at sparking new growth in the country's sputtering economy.

The Cabinet's decision - after a similar proposal was withdrawn under withering criticism last year - immediately generated optimism that a government plagued by scandal was finally breaking out of the political paralysis that had stifled reforms for months.

"This is a landmark decision in India's economic reforms process," said Rajan Bharti Mittal, whose retail company, Bharti Enterprises, has a joint venture with Wal-Mart.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the reforms were made to spur economic growth and to attract foreign investment.

"I believe that these steps will help strengthen our growth process and generate employment in these difficult times," he wrote on his Twitter account, appealing for public support.

However, political opponents and even some allies, decried the decision to allow in international supermarket chains, saying it would hurt small retailers and farmers. …

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