India checks hold up Chinese tech imports

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Checks on imported tech products including smartphones, laptops and smartwatches to India are being delayed by new quality control processes, sources say.

Imports into India of technology products made in China have been experiencing delays as a result of tightened quality control checks imposed in recent months.

Reuters reports that executives at tech firms such as Apple have urged the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to speed up the slow approval process, which has been blamed on growing political tensions between the two nations, as well as an urge to protect domestically-made Indian products.

Among the products caught up in the dispute are shipments of Apple's latest iPhone 12, as well as smartwatches made by Oppo and Xiaomi.

Reuters noted that typically, importers could expect it to take around 15 days for quality control checks to be completed, but in some cases, this has now stretched to more than two months.

Delays began following a deadly border clash between Indian and Chinese armed forces in  June, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead. In response, the country's government has tightened rules for investment from China, as well as blocking hundreds of Chinese mobile apps from companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance.

The BIS requires certain technology products - including both imported and locally-made items - to meet specified quality standards. This involves testing in a certified laboratory before they can be officially approved.

As of Wednesday November 25th, 1,080 applications for laptops, tablets and other devices were pending from the BIS, with 669 of these having been waiting for more than 20 days.

Sources told Reuters that executives at Apple India have been among those to urge the BIS to speed up its approval process, and are said to have made assurances the company will continue to expand its local manufacturing operations.

Although the US-based firm does make devices in India, its newer models, including the latest iPhone 12, are still imported from contract manufacturers in China. 

However, the Indian government under prime minister Narendra Modi is keen to promote local manufacturing.

A source told Reuters: "While the BIS is delaying approvals for products like smartwatches, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is pushing companies to make these devices in India."