x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Critics hit out at India's plans for retail reform

The Indian government has given its first signs of backtracking on a move to let foreign supermarket giants enter Asia's third-largest economy.

NEW DELHI // The Indian government has given its first signs of backtracking on a move to let foreign supermarket giants enter Asia's third-largest economy.

Political opposition has grown over one of the most far-reaching economic reforms in years.

Powerful chief ministers of several government-allied states and some lawmakers within the ruling Congress party are pressing the government to reverse its move. Parliament was adjourned for a fifth day amid uproar from lawmakers.

The government has said that foreign retailers would have to source 30 per cent of their goods from small Indian industries, after previously saying that these purchases could come from any small industries globally.

The DMK and Trinamool Congress parties - two of the government's biggest parliamentary allies that give Congress a majority in parliament - oppose the move, which would allow store chains such as Wal-Mart up to a 51 per cent stake in retail ventures.

The government may call a meeting of the main political parties today to discuss how to end the parliamentary standoff.

The uproar could force a vote on one of the government's biggest reforms in years.

If it loses the vote, in theory it could spark a wider vote of no-confidence in the Congress party-led ruling coalition.