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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Walmart takes up over 80 issues in 9 categories for lobbying

PTI  Washington, December 12, 2012
First Published: 11:40 IST(12/12/2012) | Last Updated: 12:02 IST(12/12/2012)

Global retail giant Walmart over the past five years has taken up as many as 80 issues in nine different categories for lobbying before the US lawmakers, the company has disclosed in its quarterly report before the US House of Representatives and the Senate.



The quarterly lobbying disclosure report submitted by Walmart, like other US companies, reveal that the global retail giant has been lobbying on a variety of domestic and international issues, ranging from temporarily suspending duties on whistles, compasses, Christmas tree lamps, discussions regarding hunger, nutrition policy, organised retail crime act, or on China currency manipulation.


In all there are 80 issues in nine different categories, prominent among them include – trade (domestic/foreign), food industry, taxation, financial institutions, health issues, labor issues, ant trust and work place, pharmacy, transportation, immigration, consumer issues, safety, products; energy and nuclear; and homeland security, according to the quarterly report.

A spokesperson of the Walmart refused to give details of the money spent on each of the specific issues, including the one on discussion related to FDI in India.

"I'll refer you back to our statement, we've nothing to further to share," the spokesperson said.

Both the US government and Walmart have insisted that it has done nothing wrong and has lobbied as per US laws.

And under US laws, the money estimated to be $25 million as disclosed by Walmart in its quarterly reports are the one which has been spent by it in the US.

Officials said any money spent by Walmart in India to gain undue favor from the government or the officials would come under the foreign corrupt practices act and that would require a separate investigation.

The issues, which have been disclosed by the Walmart in its quarterly reports before the US House of Representatives and the Senate, range from a host of foreign issues like FDI in India, to enhanced market access for investment in India and China.

It also included Pakistan and Afghanistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones, Panama and Columbia Free Trade Agreements, Mexico Trucking  dispute, Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, WTO negotiations, APEC Ministerial, conflict minerals in Congo and China currency issues.

Under US laws, companies, individuals and even foreign countries are allowed to lobby before the US Congress and various wings of the US Government -- the White House, State Department, Commerce Department, Department of Treasury, Department of Defense, US Trade Representatives to name a few.

But to do so, they are required to either hire the services of registered lobbyists or employ them, who then on behalf of the companies or entities go to the offices of lawmakers, policymakers, meet either the Congressmen (in most cases it is their staff) or government officials with a set of presentations and policy papers reflecting their views.

These registered lobbyists or professional whose salaries most of the time run into five figures.

Under the strict US lobbying laws, it is mandatory for each company and lobbying firms to submit a full disclosure report every quarter and is a public document, as part of the transparency of the US government.

Violation of the complex and extensive lobbying regulations can lead to penalties and even jail.

Notably the disclosure reports only lists out the issues, but give no hint as to what stand did the Wal-Mart had on these specific issues or how much money was spent on each one of them.


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