Pakistan: The Next Electronics Manufacturing Hub?

Soaring demand for consumer electronics and low labor costs are attracting major global smartphone manufacturers like Samsung to Pakistan. In 2021, local manufacturers produced 25 million handsets, up a whopping 88% increase from 13 million produced in 2020. A key factor credited for this rapid production ramp-up is the new Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy announced and implemented by former Prime Minister Imran Khan's government in 2020. It imposes high tariffs on the import of mobile phone sets and offers tax rebates for local manufacturing. The policy set a 49% localization target by June 2023, including 10% localization of components on the motherboard and 10% localization of batteries.  Pakistan is forecast to be the world's 7th largest consumer market by 2030. The key to attracting more manufacturing in Pakistan lies in continuation of pro-investment policies and a measure of political stability. 

Pakistan Going From Imports to Exports of Mobile Handsets. Source: ...

The local manufacturing plants have assembled 14.08 million mobile phone handsets in the first six months (January-June) of 2022, while imports declined to 1.14 million handsets, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Implementation of Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) and conducive government policies including the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy 2020 have created a favorable environment for mobile device manufacturing in Pakistan.

Pakistan Mobile Phone Market. Source: PIDE

In addition to Samsung, a number of Chinese mobile handset manufacturers are investing in Pakistan to ramp up local production. Itel has manufactured 3.91 million mobile devices followed by VGO Tel's 2.97 million, Infinix 2.65 million, Vivo 2.45 million, Techno 1.87 million, QQMEE 0.86 million and Oppo 0.67 million. After the export of the first lot of 4G smartphones to the UAE in 2022, Pakistan has now set $1 billion target for mobile phone exports for the current fiscal year. 

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Pakistan wants to emulate Vietnam which has emerged as one of the leading countries in the assembly and export of smartphones and other consumer electronics devices in the past decade. Apple has recently moved part of its iPad manufacturing to Vietnam from China, where Covid lockdowns have disrupted supply chains.  TRT World has recently quoted Quentin D’Silva, the head of Lucky's smartphone division in Pakistan, as saying, “It’s only in the last five to seven years that the smartphone business has mushroomed in developing countries like ours". 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 14, 2022 at 3:57pm

The world’s biggest bet on India
What Tata’s $90bn pivot to its home market says about the planet’s fifth-biggest economy

https://www.economist.com/business/2022/09/14/the-worlds-biggest-be...

If you want to glimpse the frontier of Indian capitalism, take a trip to Tamil Nadu in the south of the country. New factories with solar panels on their roofs lie on a vast 550-acre (220-hectare) site. Inside, it is reported, Tata is making components for the latest iPhones on behalf of Apple—and in the process finally connecting India to the world’s most sophisticated supply chain, which used to be anchored to China.

The project is not a one-off. It is part of a new and staggering $90bn investment surge by India’s biggest business that is repositioning itself towards its home market and away from its 30-year strategy of fanning out globally. Tata’s ambition to create electronics factories and semiconductor fabs in India could transform its economy. “I firmly believe that this is going to be India’s decade,” says Natarajan Chandrasekaran, who runs the holding company, Tata Sons, which oversees the group. The change in strategy also reflects the dramatic psychological shift within the business world’s most ardent globalisers, as they adapt to new megatrends. These include the rebasing of strategic manufacturing away from China; the rise of a new energy system; and industrial policy, which in India is being championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Anyone who follows India, the world’s fastest-growing big economy, may be under the impression that it is run by Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, two swaggering tycoons, whose conglomerates generate headlines and make them Asia’s richest men. Together the “two As” may spend over $100bn in the next five years. Yet Tata is in fact the country’s biggest business measured by market value ($269bn) and operating profits ($16bn last year), spanning everything from steel mills to software. And we estimate that its new plans are larger than any other individual firm’s, encompassing electric vehicles (evs), electronics, battery gigafactories, clean power and chips (see chart 1). If that doesn’t sound ambitious enough, it has also taken on the Everest of corporate turnarounds, buying Air India.

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But even Tata, which considers itself aloof from politics, has paid symbolic homage to Mr Modi’s populist nationalism. In 2019 Mr Tata visited the headquarters of the rss, the Hindu-chauvinist association that backs Mr Modi. In the same year Mr Modi attended the launch of a book by Mr Chandrasekaran. The Tata charities are also working more closely with the state, for example on hospitals. And Tata is participating in India’s $26bn manufacturing-subsidy scheme (though it insists the handouts are too small to swing investment decisions).

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