NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Walmart (WMT.N) told the U.S. government privately in January that India’s new investment rules for e-commerce were regressive and had the potential to hurt trade ties, a company document seen by Reuters showed.
FILE PHOTO: Walmart signs are displayed inside a Walmart store in Mexico City, Mexico, March 28, 2019. Picture taken March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo
The lobbying effort yielded no result at the time – India implemented the new rules from Feb. 1 – but the document underlines the level of concern at Walmart about the rules. Differences over e-commerce regulations have become one of the biggest issues in frayed trade ties between New Delhi and Washington.
“It came as a total surprise … this is a major change and a regressive policy shift,” Walmart’s Senior Director for Global Government Affairs Sarah Thorn told the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in an e-mail on Jan. 7.
Just months earlier, Walmart had invested $16 billion in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, its biggest ever acquisition globally.
In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, Walmart said it regularly offers input to the U.S. and Indian governments on policy issues and this was a “past issue and Walmart and Flipkart are looking ahead”.
The USTR did not respond to a request for comment.
In the January letter to the USTR, Walmart said it wanted a six-month delay in the implementation of the rules, but that did not happen. Washington did raise concerns about the policy with New Delhi, but India gave a non-committal response, an