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US casual-wear retail giant Gap Inc says it will open 40 stores in India, calling the expansion "an important next step" in its global growth strategy. The San Francisco-based company, known for its relaxed-style denim and other attire, is the latest foreign company to enter India to tap its increasingly brand-conscious and expanding middle-class. "India is an emerging, vibrant market and an important next step in our global expansion strategy," Gap global president Steve Sunnucks said in a statement late Thursday. It expects to have 110 Gap stores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan by the end of 2014, while the Gap brand is already present in nearly 50 countries.