Apple, Oppo, Xiaomi face delay in importing devices from China

Apple, Oppo and Xiaomi are facing delay in importing electronic goods from China to India due to the country’s tight control of quality clearances, Reuters reported.
Smartphone customers on 4G networkBureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the quality control agency, used to process applications within 15 days, but some are now taking up to two months or longer.

BIS started delaying approvals in August for China-made imports of devices like smartphones, smartwatches and laptops, part of the fallout from deteriorating ties with China after a border clash in June.

Since the clash India has tightened rules for investments from China and banned hundreds of Chinese mobile apps, including from tech giants Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance. It banned 43 more apps on Tuesday.

When Apple’s new iPhone 12 was caught in the delays, Apple India executives called on BIS to speed its approval up, giving assurances that the company would continue to expand its assembly operations in India.

Apple has assembly operations in India, but newer models and the iPhone 12 are imported from China, where contract manufacturers make the bulk of Apple’s devices.

As of Wednesday, 1,080 applications to BIS for laptops, tablets and other devices were pending, with 669 of those waiting more than 20 days, according to the agency’s website.

These included applications for devices from China-based factories of Wistron and Compal Electronics, and from Hangzhou Hikvision, the data showed.

Some of the applications for approval have been pending since September.

Under BIS’s registration scheme, certain electronic goods – whether imported or locally made – need to meet certain standards. After companies get their products tested in a certified laboratory, BIS approves the applications.

The clearance delays are the latest headache for technology companies whose supply chains were hit by the COVID-19 curbs, pushing some smartphone makers to resort to imports of even models made in India. The delays also come during India’s festive season when customers make big ticket purchases of everything from mobile phones to gold and cars.

The BIS delays have also hit smartwatch imports for companies including Xiaomi and Oppo.

In July, India’s trade ministry also restricted inbound shipments of TVs by requiring importers to get a special licence, a move that one of the sources said continues to hurt companies such as Xiaomi and Samsung Electronics.

Xiaomi was denied the special licence to import roughly 30,000 units of TVs, while Samsung has faced similar import hurdles, the report said.