Walmart refutes rumor about moving supplier unit from China to India
Published: Oct 12, 2021 03:24 AM
A Walmart store in Chongqing. Photo: IC

A Walmart store in Chongqing. Photo: IC

US multinational retail corporation Walmart has refuted an online rumor that it will move its global supplier business unit from China to India, saying the news is “completely wrong” and is “based on misunderstanding.”

The denial came after some social media reports, citing a so-called internal email at the US company, said that Walmart’s "Supplier Enablement team has been moved from China to India with immediate effect to provide commercial grade support to our direct import suppliers."

After the Global Times reached out to Walmart for confirmation on Monday, they gave a quick response strongly denying the rumor, saying the news is not only wrong but is also based on a misunderstanding.

In early 2021, Walmart’s India headquarters announced layoffs of 70 people, and also closed the Mumbai logistics distribution center, the largest storage station in India. The company also dropped plans to expand its wholesale business in India, media reports said.

Despite the failure in attracting as many multinational companies as China, India has never given up the illusion that it can “steal the supply chain” from China, experts said.

Since the beginning of the China-US trade dispute, the Indian government has believed the dispute would inevitably lead to adjustments in the global industry chain and they wanted to take the opportunity to lobby large multinational companies in China, especially US companies, to move to India, Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

This ambition gained impetus in the early days of the epidemic, when China implemented a blockade to curb the spread of the disease. But this did not have the desired effect for India, the expert said.

One recent case was India India’s Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari asking Tesla to avoid selling China-made cars in India ahead of the electric-vehicle maker’s expected entry into the South Asian nation, Bloomberg reported over the weekend. 

"One fundamental factor is how big the Indian market is for companies like Tesla," said Liu, given that the EV market in India is much smaller than in China.

In 2020, India’s total car sales were 2.4 million, of which new energy vehicles accounted for only 5,000. By comparison, China’s total car sales were 20 million and those of new energy vehicles reached 1.25 million, accounting for more than one-third of Tesla’s global sales, media reports said.

"The conditions it offers to foreign-funded enterprises are completely different from those offered to foreign capital in China," said Liu.

Businesses vote with their feet, Liu noted, adding that India’s government should reflect on its own economic policies.

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