New Delhi: EU-India Trade Talks: "Hell to Pay" for U.S. Companies?
Stokes, Bruce, European Affairs
What if the world's largest market and the world's second-largest emerging economy deepen their trade relationship--and Washington sleeps through it? While Democratic presidential candidates regularly bash trade, and the White House and Congress spar over an economically insignificant free-trade deal with Colombia, the European Union and India are quietly negotiating an unprecedented commercial relationship.
U.S. companies, at least, are paying close attention. "If Carrefour gets better access to the Indian market than Wal-Mart, there will be hell to pay," said Angela Marshall Hofmann, Wal-Mart's director of international corporate affairs. She reflects Wal-Mart's recent frustration with attempts to penetrate the Indian market and the company's apprehension about the potential gains that Carrefour, the French retail giant, might realize from the EU-India negotiations.
Wal-Mart's concerns seem well founded. Within two decades, half a billion Indian consumers will have sufficient income to buy a television and other accoutrements of a middle-class lifestyle. …