The US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc is taking steps to accelerate its push into the world's largest market, China, with the announcement it has signed an agreement to open stores in the city of Shanghai.

Wal-Mart's agreement with China's CITIC Group will create a joint venture aimed at Shanghai and other cities in eastern China. It is not yet clear how many stores will open.

The world's biggest retailer already has 22 stores in the country but the deal, which is still awaiting government approval, will see it take on French group Carrefour, which already has a strong base in the city. Most of Wal-Mart's stores to date are in the South of the country.