Global retail giant Walmart has stopped its lobbying with the U.S. lawmakers on India-specific issues, after continuously seeking their support for about five years to facilitate its entry into the high growth Indian market.
The disclosure incidentally comes at a time when Indian government is preparing a report to be presented in Parliament next month based on findings of a probe into Walmart’s U.S. lobbying activities for getting an access to India.
According to the latest lobbying disclosure reports filed by Walmart and its registered lobbyists with the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, the company spent close to $2 million (about Rs. 12 crore) on various lobbying activities during the second quarter ended June 30.
However, no India-specific matter figures among close to three dozen issues discussed by Walmart and its lobbyists with the lawmakers in the U.S. during this period.
This has come as a major departure from the prior period lobby disclosure reports, including that for the preceding quarter (January-March 2013) wherein ‘Discussions related to FDI in India’ figured as one of the lobbying issues, the Congressional records show.
The company had spent a similar amount of about $2 million in the previous quarter as well on its lobbying activities, which are being undertaken by it directly as also through close to ten other registered lobby firms.
The matters related to FDI rules in India have figured among the “specific lobbying issues” for the company since at least 2008. It could not be ascertained whether Walmart has permanently stopped lobbying on India-related issues, or it is only a temporary halt.
Walmart and many other overseas supermarket chains have been wanting to set shop for many years in India, which opened up this business for foreign players last year with a 51 per cent equity cap despite stiff political opposition.
Still, there are many restrictions, such as those on sourcing of products, that are keeping foreign multi-brand retailers away from the country.