India bans import of Chinese-made wireless devices International trade news

India has stopped importing Chinese-made Bluetooth speakers, wireless earphones, smartphones and more: Reuters.

India has allowed imports of WiFi modules from China for two months, with US-based computer makers Dell and HP and Chinese operating companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo delay launching products in key development markets, two industry sources told Reuters.

Imports of finished electronic devices such as Bluetooth speakers, wireless earphones, smartphones, smartwatches and laptops from China are being delayed, sources said.

According to sources who were familiar with the lobbying efforts of the companies seeking clearances, the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) Wing of the Ministry of Communications of India has stopped approving the matter at least since November.

More than 80 applications from U.S., Chinese and Korean companies are pending with the WPC, a source said. Even applications from some Indian companies, which bring in some manufactured products from China, are awaiting WPC approval, the source added.

Dell, HP, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo did not respond to requests for comment.

India’s communications ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Both sources said the government could still respond to representations from industry representatives from lobby groups and independent firms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for greater economic self-reliance comes amid India’s tough stance against Chinese imports.

Its nationalist policies have helped boost smartphone rallies in South Asian countries, and sources believe the government’s intention is to persuade companies to look for more production of electronic devices aimed at India.

“The idea of ​​the government is to put pressure on companies to make these products in India,” a source said.

India has become the second largest manufacturer of mobile devices in the world [File: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg]

“But technology companies are in a difficult situation – making money in India would mean investing in big tickets and waiting a long time for returns, while imposing a government-imposed barrier to imports would reduce potential revenue.”

India had earlier allowed companies to self-declare wireless equipment, a move that facilitated imports, but in March 2012 new regulations forced companies to seek government approval.

India’s market and export potential has transformed it into the world’s second-largest mobile device maker, with technology analysts and industry insiders saying it still lacks the size or scale for companies to invest heavily in creating IT products and smart wearable devices.

Beware of Chinese tech

The long delay in WPC approval also underscores India’s strategy to reduce China’s influence in its technology economy, especially after the border clash with Beijing last year, although tensions have been declining since then.

The Modi government this week dropped Chinese electronics maker Huawei from its list of participants in its 5G mobile telecommunications test, even though European and South Korean rivals had permission.

With the launch of 5G in India, New Delhi will likely ban mobile carriers from using Huawei’s telecom gear, Reuters reported earlier.

U.S. agencies Apple, Cisco and Dell were caught last year in India’s border tensions with U.S. ports China as Indian ports imported their goods from China.

In another example released by Reuters late last year, India’s strict control of quality control for electronic products from China has slowed imports of an Apple iPhone model.

The companies now have safety clearances from India’s quality control agency, a major obstacle to WPC-approved imports of electronic devices from China.

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