Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer and employer of 1% of the entire US workforce, announced plans to open at least 10 news stores in China in 2005. The new openings are expected to help the company gain ground on China's current number one foreign retailer, France's Carrefour. Wal-Mart's move comes as the Chinese retail market braces for a new round of liberalization in December, dropping most restrictions on foreign retailers and clearing the way for them to expand into China's smaller cities. Wal-Mart expects to have 43 stores open in China by the end of the year, compared to Carrefour's 53. Germany's Metro Group also recently announced plans to nearly triple its store count to over 60. China's fast growing retail market was last year worth an estimated US$242bn, still a long way behind Japan, Asia's biggest, at US$1.2trn.