Increasing import costs from China have reportedly prompted a shift in strategy. Large U.S. firms, amid political tensions between the U.S. and China, are opting to increase imports from countries such as India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Walmart is gradually shifting its import focus to India, moving away from China, as indicated by data from Import Yeti. The world’s largest retailer seems to be aiming to reduce costs and diversify its supply chains.
Between January and August of the current year, Walmart directed a quarter of its imports to the U.S. from India, a significant increase from the 2 percent recorded in 2018. During the same period in 2018, the retailer sourced 80 percent of its imports from China, which has now decreased to 60 percent. Despite the shift, China remains Walmart’s primary country for imports.
This transition is reportedly in response to the escalating import costs from China, coupled with political tensions between the U.S. and China. Many large U.S. companies are opting to increase imports from countries like India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Andrea Albright, Walmart’s Executive Vice President of Sourcing, emphasized the importance of securing the best prices and maintaining supply chain resilience. She mentioned the need to avoid over-reliance on a single supplier or geography due to various factors such as natural disasters, raw material shortages, and geopolitical tensions.
Walmart clarified in a statement that the data reflects only a partial view of reality and does not necessarily indicate a complete shift away from one of its sourcing markets. The retail giant emphasized its commitment to sourcing more manufacturing capacity as part of its growth strategy.
Walmart acquired a 77 percent stake in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart in 2018, signaling its growing operations in India. The company has pledged to import $10 billion worth of goods from India annually by 2027 and is on track to meet this target, currently importing $3 billion worth of goods from India each year.
India is increasingly seen as a strong competitor to China in low-cost, large-scale manufacturing. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May further solidified the company’s commitment to India as an attractive investment destination. Modi described the meeting as fruitful and expressed happiness at seeing India emerge as an appealing investment hub.