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Samsung and Apple drive India's smartphone exports


Thanks to Samsung Electronics' and Apple's investments, India's export of mobiles phones for the past year is expected to break a new record. However, India's local suppliers may suffer from the renewed pandemic in China and the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to Business Standard, India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) forecast that India's mobile phone export is expected to rise from US$3.16 billion in fiscal 2021 (April 2020 to March 2021) to US$5.7 billion in fiscal 2022.

Helped by exports of premium smartphones of Samsung and Apple manufactured in India, developed countries in Europe and Asia, such as the UK, Netherlands, and Japan, are among India's top export markets, according to India's Ministry of Commerce. Mobile phones exported from India primarily headed toward emerging economies in the past.

ICEA said that India's mobile phone supply chain had started to face uncertainties due to multiple COVID-19 waves in 2020 and stabilized its operation in 2021, and exports results exceeded expectations.

The growth of India's mobile phone exports can be attributed to the success of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) for Large-Scale Manufacturing, which attracted investments from Samsung and Apple supply chains.

Financial Express reported manufacturers of iPhones in India are expected to export INR100 billion (US$1.31 billion), and the iPhone models exported the most are Wistron-manufactured iPhone SE 2020, followed by Foxconn-made iPhone 11 and 12.

Business Standard, citing unnamed sources, reported that Foxconn would make iPhone 13 at its India plant, and The Economic Times reported that Pegatron's India plant would start production in April.

Still, India's mobile phone supply chain is facing new difficulties due to the pandemic in China and the war between Russia and Ukraine. Confederation of Indian Industry statistics show that India imports US$30 billion in intermediate goods from China annually, and India imports 80-90% of mobile phone components from China, according to Financial Express.

Financial Express cited sources saying that even if chip shortage, aggravated by the Russia-Ukraine war, continues for a long duration, the supplies of global players such as Samsung and Apple will still see limited impact as their scales of operations give them higher leverage with suppliers. However, India's local players, such as Micromax, Padget, and Optiemus, who have to meet production requirements under the PLI scheme, may find it challenging to find alternative suppliers once their inventories are exhausted.

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