Cupertino based tech giant Apple has suffered a big blow in India today. Arun Jaitley-led finance ministry on Thursday has announced a hike in customs duty. So, if you think that Apple iPhone 8, iPhone X prices are high, then your problems have just been added to. The notification issued by the Department of Revenue under the Finance Ministry said that customs duty will go up from 10 percent to 15 percent for mobile handsets. The notification further said customs duty on television and microwave ovens has increased from 10 percent to 20 percent. Even customs duty on video recording equipment and television cameras has gone up from 10 percent to 15 percent.
According to industry pundits, smartphone companies which are import-dependent like Apple and Lenovo will bear the maximum brunt of this decision. “Apple will be hit the most as the company imports nearly 88 percent of its devices into the country. It will either have to increase the price or start assembling more in the country,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, told IANS.
Pankaj Mohindroo, Founder and National President of the Indian Cellular Association said,”Indian mobile phone industry is marching towards global competitiveness. It does not seek long-term protection. Short-term disability mitigation is however necessary. The recent spurt in imports esp features phones (after PMP 1/7/2017 notifications) is responsible for this duty increase”.
“We will see a revival in feature phone manufacturing to pre-July 2017 levels soon. Calls to increase duty to 40 percent bound rates are however unwarranted. I am sure that Government of India will do a careful impact analysis after this hike and take a suitable call around budget time,” he added.
Currently, Apple assembles iPhone SE model at its Bengaluru facility with Wistron Corporation. The latter is its Taiwanese manufacturing partner. “Domestic and some China-based manufacturers will not be affected as most of them are assembly a lot in the country, including South Korean giant Samsung. They just need to speed up their assembly lines,” Pathak added.
Apple is also seeking tax relief and other incentives from the government to begin assembling more handsets in the country. “Assembling in India becomes critical since this will give savings to Apple which can partly be used to bring down prices and part of it can be used for expanding distribution, channel margins, retail marketing spends and ensure placement in smaller towns and cities where the consumer is highly aspirational and strives for a premium brand like Apple,” Navkendar Singh, Senior Research Manager at IDC India, said.