The Hindu (Kolkata)

India’s smartphone exports rise from 1% to 2.5% in a decade

In the same period, Vietnam’s share in global smartphone exports grew from 1% to 12%

- Jasmin Nihalani Vignesh Radhakrish­nan

n recent times, India has laid much emphasis on smartphone exports. In November 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded phone exports as they crossed the $5 billion mark. At the 2023 India Mobile Congress, Mr. Modi said “soon the whole world will be using madeinIndi­a phones”. The government credited the Production Linked Incentive scheme for major smartphone companies shifting their suppliers to India. These were in line with the ambitious target set in the National Policy on Electronic­s 2019, that India will be exporting 600 million mobile phones worth $110 billion by 2025.

With barely a year left for this goal, India’s smartphone exports are hovering below $10 billion a year, just a fraction of the target. While India continues to manufactur­e a significan­t number of smartphone­s, most of it is consumed domestical­ly. Recently, Reuters reported on a letter and a confidenti­al presentati­on drafted by the IT Ministry earlier in January this year, in which, Minister Rajeev Chandrasek­har had expressed his concerns about India losing out to China and Vietnam due to high tariffs on import of mobile components.

The Indian government reduced import duty on mobile parts such as lenses, battery and back covers from 15% to 10%, by Januaryend. However, India continues to impose a 20% tax on chargers and circuit boards.

The IT Minister’s apprehensi­ons are borne out by the data. In particular, Vietnam attracted many firms which were looking to reduce dependency on China. While China continues to dominate, Vietnam has eaten into its export share steadily over the years, taking over from South Korea as the second

Ibiggest smartphone exporter.

Chart 1 shows the countrywis­e share of smartphone exports. Both India and Vietnam had less than 1% export share before 2010. By 2022, Vietnam’s share rose to 12%, while India ranked seventh with a little over 2.5% export share. While China continues to form the lion’s share by exporting half of the world’s smartphone­s in 2022, the consistent­ly upward trend it witnessed before 2015 is not seen anymore. Hong Kong, UAE, the Czech Republic, the U.S. and South Korea are other players in the export market.

Vietnam’s staggering rise can be attributed to its fastpaced growth in the U.S. smartphone market which is the biggest importer of mobiles. Between 2018 and 2022, Vietnam’s share in U.S. smartphone imports doubled from 9% to 18% as shown in Chart 2. It has also marginally improved its share to 1% in Hong Kong’s smartphone imports — the world’s second biggest importer — where India’s share is insignific­ant. Japan, the world’s fourth biggest importer, gets 6% of its imported smartphone­s from Vietnam, close to three times more than India’s share.

However, in UAE and Germany — the world’s third and fifth biggest smartphone importers —Vietnam’s share in imports is decreasing and in both these countries India’s share is growing. India’s share in UAE’s smartphone imports increased from about 5% in 2018 to over 13% in 2022, while Vietnam’s declined from 31.8% to 13.5%. In Germany, Vietnam’s share declined from about 20% to 10% in 2022, while India’s increased to about 5% from a negligible share in 2018.

Within India, Tamil Nadu leads smartphone exports with close to 38% of India’s mobiles being sent out from Kancheepur­am as shown in Chart 3. Gautam Buddha Nagar of Uttar Pradesh and Kolar in Karnataka are other districts leading in smartphone exports.

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