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Wal-Mart Looks to Build More Stores in China as Restrictions Are Eased

HONG KONG - Wal-Mart hopes to open at least 11 new stores in China next year as the country eases restrictions on foreign retailers under World Trade Organization requirements, a Wal-Mart executive said yesterday.

Cassian Cheung, the president of Wal-Mart's China operations, said Wal-Mart currently runs 42 stores in 20 Chinese cities, including supercenters, smaller "neighborhood" stores, and Sam's Club membership retail stores.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has been relatively limited in its expansion so far by Chinese government rules that restrict foreign retailers to certain cities and hold them to three stores each per city, according to Cheung.

The geographical restrictions will be removed Dec. 11 under the terms of China's entry into the WTO, said Cheung.

China joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001, and its membership requirements stipulate it must lower trade barriers and introduce reforms.
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