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Wal-Mart eyes Malaysia

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American retail giant Wal-Mart has evinced interest in opening its chain in Malaysia which though Southeast Asia’s third largest economy saw decline in foreign direct investment.

“Wal-Mart has shown interest and is keen to open stores in Malaysia,” deputy trade minister S. Veerasingam told media in capital Kuala Lumpur, according to reports.

Malaysia expects to post strong economic growth of 6.0 percent this year, after its economy expanded by 5.9 percent in 2006.

The Minister said German company Metro, one of Europe’s largest retailers, had applied for permission to set up operations.

Another official said the entry of foreign retail giants would create jobs. “It will not only provide more jobs locally but will make the retail market more competitive besides injecting foreign investments in the country,” consumer affairs minister Shafie Apdal told the New Straits Times.

He said foreign retailers were keen to invest in Malaysia due to the strong purchasing power of local consumers.

Malaysia has restricted the entry and expansion of supermarkets over recent years to protect smaller local businesses.

But major foreign retailers including France’s Carrefour, Britain’s Tesco, Japan’s Isetan and IKEA of Sweden already operate in the country.

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