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Wal-Mart Proposes Policy Actions to Boost U.S. Manufacturing

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) on Wednesday proposed 10 policy actions to boost U.S. manufacturing that the retailer said could help recapture $300 billion of the $650 billion worth of consumer goods that are currently imported.

Wal-Mart said barriers to manufacturing growth include a lack of available and qualified workers and of co-ordination and financing to support U.S. manufacturers, complex regulations that create high compliance costs and legal risks, and the need for an overhaul of the U.S. tax system and trade deals.

The world’s largest retailer, which committed to sourcing $250 billion worth of U.S.-made goods in 2013, said it identified those challenges as it worked with suppliers over the last four years.

Wal-Mart’s comments come at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has made boosting domestic manufacturing a key focus of his economic agenda. Earlier this month the White House held its “Made in America” week showcasing U.S. goods.

The company’s policy proposals included building vocational training programs, reducing costs for private industry to train workers, rebranding U.S. manufacturing to attract workers and drive demand for domestic products, encouraging component production to close supply chain gaps and promoting manufacturing clusters through public-private cooperation.

Other proposals included eliminating federal overlap in manufacturing regulations, creating flexible compliance requirements for small businesses, creating a globally competitive tax environment, expanding tax deductions to foster manufacturing investments and overhauling trade agreements.

Wal-Mart said it discussed these proposals at a meeting with individuals and organizations representing business, government and non-governmental organizations in Washington D.C.

Citing an analysis by the Boston Consulting Group, Wal-Mart said every $100 billion that is onshored has the potential to create more than 500,000 direct manufacturing jobs which could then create an additional 1.5 million jobs.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli