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Norway Approves Of Walmart

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Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, has been given the approval to invest again in retail giant Walmart Inc. and miner Rio Tinto plc, among other companies.

This follows the Norway central bank's decision to revoke these companies' exclusions from the fund's investments on ethical grounds.

Walmart Inc. and Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB de CV were excluded in 2006 from the pension fund's investments after the retail giant was accused of human rights violations in its own operations and in its supply chain.

At that time, Walmart was linked to several incidents at its suppliers in several countries, including abuse of employees, lack of basic fire safety precautions, gender discrimination, preventing employees from complaining about poor working conditions, and forcing employees to work overtime without compensation.

However, the fund's Council on Ethics has now found that the grounds for Walmart's exclusion are no longer present.

The Council noted in a statement that "positive developments" have occurred in Walmart's monitoring of its suppliers and the company's monitoring system seems better able to uncover serious non-conformances.

"Furthermore, the company engages actively in selected, high-risk areas in order to help bring about improvements in working conditions. There seem to be fewer reports of poor working conditions in Walmart's supply chain now than there were before," the council noted.

The fund also decided to revoke exclusions of Grupo Carso SAB de CV, General Dynamics Corp, Nutrien Ltd., and Rio Tinto Ltd. as well as Rio Tinto plc.

Grupo Carso, which was excluded from the fund in 2011 due to tobacco production, has made it clear for the Council on Ethics that it is no longer involved in tobacco production.

General Dynamics Corp's exclusion was revoked after the company said it has terminated the production of cluster munitions.

The exclusion of Nutrien, previously Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, was canceled after it ceased purchases of phosphate from Western Sahara.

Rio Tinto's exclusion was revoked after the mining company agreed to sell its interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, which was under the risk of "severe environmental damage".

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