Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou said the iPhone will go into mass production in India this year, a shift for the largest assembler of Apple Inc.\u2019s handsets that has long concentrated production in China. Gou said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited him to India as his Taiwanese company plans its expansion in the country. Apple has had older phones produced at a plant in Bangalore for several years, but now will expand manufacturing to more recent models. Bloomberg News reported this month that Foxconn is ready to start trial production of the latest iPhones in the country before it starts full-scale assembly at its factory outside the southern city of Chennai. \u201cIn the future we will play a very important role in India\u2019s smartphone industry,\u201d Gou said at an event in Taiwan. \u201cWe have moved our production lines there.\u201d India has become the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, while China stagnates and Apple loses share to local competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. Apple has been a minor player in India, in part because of its high prices, but local manufacturing would help the Cupertino, California-based company avoid import duties of 20 percent. \u201cFor Foxconn, the China market for iPhones is saturated, and labor costs are three times higher compared with India,\u201d said Karn Chauhan, a Gurgaon-based analyst at Counterpoint Research. \u201cIndia is still an emerging smartphone market, it has a lot of potential domestically and could serve as an export hub for the region.\u201d Gou also said on Monday that he plans to step back from daily operations to focus on broader strategy. The founder isn\u2019t stepping down or relinquishing his chairmanship, said Louis Woo, special assistant to Gou. Also read:\u00a0Foxconn chairman Terry Gou aims to step down to pave way for younger talent It\u2019s not yet clear how Apple\u2019s steps into India will affect its China operations. China has been the company\u2019s most important manufacturing base for years, home to Foxconn\u2019s biggest facilities and hundreds of other partners. Foxconn already has two assembly sites in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where it makes devices for Xiaomi and Nokia. Locating more production in India would help diversify Apple and Foxconn\u2019s manufacturing footprint away from China amid ongoing trade tensions with the U.S. The Indian assembly line of Foxconn\u2019s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. would serve local and export markets by the time Apple announces its next iPhone models in September, people familiar with the matter have said. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer, the biggest maker of iPhones, will initially invest about $300 million to set up for Apple with investments to ramp up as capacity expands, they said. Gou said that his company is talking with the government about investment terms. He has a dozen software people in India and he plans to increase that to 600, he said. \u201cWe are the primary assembler after all,\u201d Gou said on Monday. \u201cIf our customer wants to boost its scale, it will need to depend on us to grow the comprehensive supply chain.\u201d Producing phones locally would also help Apple\u2019s retail push in India. The company needs to meet a 30 percent local sourcing rule to be able to open its own stores in the country. Indians bought more than 140 million smartphones last year, with just 1.7 million sold by Apple, as consumers favored cheaper models from China. On Xiaomi\u2019s Indian website, the Redmi Note 7 has a price of 9,999 rupees ($143), which is about a 10th the price of Apple\u2019s iPhone Xs in the country.