NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is stepping up efforts to sell domestically sourced products abroad.

The discount giant said Friday it had opened a new office, branded GP USA Export, to identify American-made goods that could be sold in its stores abroad. Situated at the firm’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, the office is a branch of Wal-Mart Global Procurement, an internal buying agency formed in 2002.

"We think there is a growing market for U.S. exports in the other markets where we operate," said Ken Eaton, senior vice president of global procurement, in a statement. Wal-Mart Global Procurement has sourcing offices in 17 countries, working directly with Wal-Mart buyers in North and South America, China, Korea, Japan, Germany and the U.K.

A spokesman added that the new office "really just closes the loop for us. We’ve had offices in other countries for our global procurement division and this is just an office in the U.S. that makes sure the pipeline goes in both directions."

While popcorn and laundry detergent were mentioned as domestically made products currently selling at Wal-Mart stores abroad, the spokesman did not know if any apparel or accessories are currently being exported or if they mightbe in the future.

Eaton added: "We have almost 1,300 Wal-Mart stores outside the U.S., and the number is growing steadily. These stores create a global market for American-made products." The GP USA Export office will also lend U.S. suppliers the advantage of Wal-Mart’s expertise in export logistics as well as regulatory issues, a tall hurdle for some exporters, said the firm.

Wal-Mart is already the world’s biggest company, with sales that topped $218 billion last year.

"We see the GP USA Export office as a window to new markets," said Eaton. "But it will also shine a light on trade barriers to U.S. products. We want to sell American products globally, but we will also need to work with the U.S. government to break down barriers that we encounter."

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