India announced it will suspend approvals for China-made Wi-Fi modules, delaying launches


India has delayed approvals for importing Wi-Fi modules from China for months, prompting companies such as US computer makers Dell and HP and Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo to delay the launch of products in a key growth market, two sources of the sector. mentionned.

Imports from China of finished electronic devices – such as Bluetooth speakers, wireless headphones, smartphones, smartwatches and laptops – containing Wi-Fi modules are delayed, according to the sources.

The Communications Ministry’s (WPC) wireless planning and coordination wing has refused approval since at least November, according to the sources, who were aware of lobbying efforts by companies seeking permission.

More than 80 such requests by US, Chinese and Korean companies have been pending with the WPC since then, one of the sources said. Even requests from some Indian companies, which import some finished products from China, are awaiting approval from the WPC, the sources added.

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

The Communications Ministry also did not respond to a request for comment. And both sources said the government has yet to respond to representations made by industry lobby groups and individual companies.

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

Its nationalist policies have helped spur the growth of the smartphone assembly in the South Asian nation, and sources believe the government’s intention is to persuade companies to further localize their production of electronic devices in India.

“The idea of ​​the government is to push companies to manufacture these products in India,” said one of the sources.

“But tech companies are caught in a tough spot – doing it in India would mean large investments and a long wait for return, on the other hand, the government impediment to imports means potential loss of revenue.”

India previously allowed companies to self-declare wireless equipment, a move that made it easier to import, but new rules in March 2019 required companies to seek government approval.

While India’s market and export potential has made it the world’s second-largest mobile maker, technology analysts and industry insiders say it does not yet have the size or scale for companies to invest heavily in manufacturing computer products and smart wearable devices.

Beware of Chinese technology
The long delay in WPC approvals also underlines India’s strategy to reduce China’s influence in its tech economy, especially after a border clash with Beijing last year, though tensions have eased. since.

Modi’s government this week omitted Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei from the list of participants in its 5G trials, although rivals in Europe and Korea have been allowed.

And once the 5G rollout begins in India, New Delhi will likely block cell carriers from using Huawei’s telecommunications equipment, Reuters previously reported.

US companies Apple, Cisco and Dell were caught last year by border tensions between India and China, as Indian ports delayed imports of their products from China.

In another example, reported by Reuters late last year, India’s tight control of quality authorizations for electronics from China slowed the import of an iPhone model from China. Apple.

Now that companies have obtained security clearances from the Indian Quality Control Agency, obtaining WPC approval has become the main obstacle to importing electronic devices from China.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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