India’s strict control over quality permits for electronic goods from China slowed the import of new Apple iPhones last month, and stopped other products made by companies such as Xiaomi, according to press reports from two sources.
Typically, applications submitted to the quality control agency named (Bureau of Indian Standards) are processed within 15 days, but some have so far taken up to two months, or longer.
The Bureau of Indian Standards began delaying approvals in August for Chinese-made imports of devices, such as smartphones, smart watches, and laptops, in light of the repercussions of deteriorating relations with China after a border clash in June that resulted in 20 Indian soldiers killed.
Since the clash, India has tightened rules on investments from China and banned hundreds of Chinese mobile apps, including popular apps from Chinese tech giants, such as Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance. On Tuesday, it had banned 43 additional apps.
The two sources said that when Apple’s new iPhone 12 was delayed, executives at Apple in India called (the Bureau of Indian Standards) to speed up its approval, and provided assurances that the company would continue to expand its assembly operations in India.
It was unclear how long the request for (iPhone 12) was delayed. Although the company has assembly operations in India, the latest models of the iPhone 12 are imported from China, where the company contracts with two manufacturers to manufacture the bulk of its devices.
As of Wednesday, there were 1,080 (Indian Standards Bureau) pending applications for laptops, tablets and other devices, and of those, 669 were awaiting 20 days, according to the office’s website. There are requests that have not been approved since last September.
Indian traders and Hindu nationalist groups have been calling for months to boycott products imported from China due to the border clash, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to promote self-reliance and local production.
“While the (Indian Standards Bureau) is delaying approvals for products such as smart watches, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is pushing companies to make these devices in India,” said one of the sources.
Under the (Indian Standards Bureau) registration scheme, some electronic goods – whether imported or locally made – need to meet certain standards. After companies test their products in an accredited laboratory, the office approves the requests.