FDI in retail will benefit consumers in India: Powell

Allowing FDI in India's retail market will benefit the Indian consumers and farmers, American Ambassador to India Nancy Powell said here Monday.

"We see benefits for consumers in India, a much bigger impact will come to the producers, the farmers in particular, to those who handle produce as they come out of the farms," Powell told journalists during an interaction at the Indian Women's Press Corps.

Explaining the benefits of multi-brand retail, Powell said: "An incredibly high percentage, 40 percent of food, is lost in India due to the lack of cold storage, the lack of quick transportation. This is one of the very important benefits of multi-brand retail that they have brought across the world in improving the supply chain."

"It has meant better prices for many of the producers, higher return as they do not lose as much between the farm and the store," said Powell, who is the first woman US ambassador to India.

On the controversy over foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail in India, Powell said: "Obviously it is a political issue here... how you work with the kiranas, the smaller traders but, it is also a recognition that not everybody is going to a big store, you will continue to have variety of retail outlets partially due to transportation.

This will continue to be part of your political debate but we are very very pleased to see it coming to India."

"I think multi-brand retail is something which has been very controversial in my part of the US. When Wal-Mart came, we saw some very familiar debates which I now read in the Indian newspapers," she said.

"As we worked at the impact of multi-brand retail on consumers, we found it provides consumers more selections of goods and services to choose from and at lower prices and fresher products," she added.

The Left parties want a debate and vote on FDI in the winter session of parliament starting Nov 22.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also said that the party will oppose FDI and coordinate with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents and other opposition parties on the issue.

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