Retailer relationships with overseas suppliers should not fall within the remit of the new Code of Practice, Asda has argued.

In its response to the Competition Commission's provisional decision on remedies relating to the supply chain, Asda said the code should only apply to relationships with UK suppliers and farmers.

Asda argued its suppliers in other countries would also be supplying other retailers globally who would not be bound by the code. This, it suggested, would be unfair on UK retailers. "Such suppliers are likely to be supplying retail customers in other jurisdictions, but the commission cannot impose a remedy on those customers," it said. "As a result, there is only limited impact on the allocation of risk/cost the commission seeks to remedy."

Asda's calls were criticised by ActionAid, which said including overseas suppliers would help low-income workers abroad.

Meanwhile, in its submission to the commission, Grant Thornton reiterated its calls for the proposed ombudsman to act independently of the OFT.

The commission's provisional decision on remedies suggested an ombudsman could either report to the OFT or work independently.

Duncan Swift, head of food & agribusiness recovery at Grant Thornton, said the ombudsman should be independent because the supply chain "has no confidence in the attitude or willingness of the OFT to adequately discharge the responsibilities of guidance and investigation". An ombudsman should be independent, robust and proactive, Swift added.

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