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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 13:24 GMT
Protests greet Wal-Mart in India
Protests against Wal-Mart in Delhi
Small retailers fear that they will lose business
A visit to India by Wal-Mart executives has sparked protests by small shopkeepers worried about its plans for a tie-up with Bharti Enterprises.

Communist protesters were briefly arrested after they marched on government buildings in Delhi, waving placards saying "Save small retailers".

Wal-Mart vice-chairman Michael Duke is in Mumbai for talks with Bharti bosses and government representatives.

Wal-Mart and Bharti are planning a joint venture for cash-and-carry.

Foreign interest

A statement from Wal-Mart says Mr Duke is visiting India "to learn more about the market first-hand and to further explore the wholesale cash-and-carry business".

The protestors burned an effigy representing Wal-Mart near the office of Kamal Nath, the Indian commerce and trade minister.

India's retail industry is worth about $300bn (150bn) a year and has attracted the interest of international retailers such as Metro, Carrefour and Tesco.

A spokesman for India FDI Watch, which tries to limit the growth of foreign retailers in India, says Wal-Mart's entry threatens large numbers of jobs.

"Around 40 million people depend on the retail sector and these people's livelihoods will be ruined if Wal-Mart is permitted to enter India's retail market," he said.

Indian law currently allows foreign multi-brand retailers to run only cash-and-carry or franchise businesses.

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