Wal-Mart's China imports cost 400,000 U.S. jobs during 2001-2013: report

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc's WMT.N import of goods from China led to the loss of over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013, according to a report from a U.S.-based non-profit think tank.

People talk outside a Wal-Mart Pickup-Grocery test store in Bentonville, Arkansas, in this file photo taken June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

The world’s largest retailer likely accounted for 15.3 percent of the growth in the U.S. goods trade deficit with China in the same period, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said in a report on Wednesday.

United States goods trade deficit with China increased almost fourfold to $324.2 billion in the 12 years till 2013, with Wal-Mart accounting for $48.1 billion of the total, the EPI said.

“Wal-Mart has aided China’s abuse of labor rights and its violations of fair trade (norms) by providing a conduit for the distribution of artificially cheap and subsidized Chinese exports to the United States,” the EPI said.

The EPI also said Wal-Mart’s plan to source more U.S.-made goods had resulted in very few actual manufacturing jobs being created.

Wal-Mart said EPI’s analysis was “flawed” and that the company adds jobs through areas of its business such as supply chain, logistics and distribution.

Wal-Mart also cited a report by Boston Consulting Group that said the company will create an estimated 1 million new U.S. jobs by 2023 through its U.S. manufacturing initiatives, including direct job growth of about 250,000.

The EPI said the rising U.S. trade deficit and more Wal-Mart imports will likely displace much more manufacturing jobs than the company creates in the United States over the next decade.

Wal-Mart had said in 2013 it would buy an additional $50 billion of American-made products by 2023, which would bring total spending on domestically-sourced goods to $250 billion.

The retailer had been under pressure from unions and other critics who have said the company’s drive for low-cost goods was undermining American jobs.

“Walmart’s decision to import so many of their products from China has hurt our communities with fewer and fewer, good manufacturing jobs here in the U.S.— making a mockery of their ‘Made in America’ initiative,” a statement from worker group OUR Walmart said on Wednesday.

The EPI gets support from labor organizations such as the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which have backed campaigns by Wal-Mart employees to improve pay and benefits.

Wal-Mart’s shares were down 1 percent at $59.06 in afternoon trading.

Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza