Wal-Mart has always been an intimidating taskmaster in China, extracting the lowest possible prices from suppliers. Last year it raised the bar a notch for these thousands of mostly small manufacturers, requiring that they meet or exceed all local environmental regulations. Wal-Mart gives them tips on how to boost energy efficiency and cut consumption of raw materials. It also delivers a blunt threat: Manufacturers have until 2012 to meet the new standards or risk being cut from the supply chain.
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