December was also a record month for the industry with mobile phone exports of over Rs 10,000 crore, the data showed.
Apple and Samsung have been the leading players for exporting mobile phones from India. As per government officials, Apple overtook Samsung to become the leading mobile phone exporter in November and achieved the $1 billion mobile phone exports in December.
Apple, through its three contract manufacturers, is producing and exporting iPhone 12, 13, 14 and 14+ models from India. Apart from the three manufacturers, some small Indian exporters are also said to be exporting iPhones from India, the officials said.
Apple’s contract manufacturers – Foxconn Hon Hai and Pegatron, both located out of Tamil Nadu, and Wistron, which is in Karnataka – are participants in the government’s smartphone production linked incentive (PLI) scheme launched in April 2020.
India Likely to Export Mobiles Worth $9 billion in FY23
All three manufacturers are required to submit production, exports, investments and jobs data on a periodic basis to the government as participants in the PLI scheme.
Apple and Samsung didn’t respond to ET’s emails seeking comment.
The government estimates India is likely to export mobile phones worth about $9 billion in FY23, up from $5.8 billion in the year before, as manufacturers step up production and outward shipments.
As per officials, the $1 billion export benchmark within a month makes iPhone the flagbearer of the government’s ambitious PLI schemes, which have been extended across 13 sectors, in addition to smartphones. The officials further added that mobile phone exports could have been higher if Samsung’s unit was working at full capacity. The South Korean major’s production unit was closed for 10-15 days for regular maintenance, leading to a drop in production and exports, the officials added.
“Mobile exports are the beacon of the government’s visionary PLI schemes. Lowering input tariffs, starting with the upcoming Union Budget, is critical to keeping India’s smartphone exports competitive and growing. We are also urging the government to formulate similar schemes for components, hearables and wearables”, Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman, India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), told ET.
Propelled by mobile exports, electronics exports have been racing ahead in the current fiscal. As per Department of Commerce, overall exports of electronics goods in April-December 2022 reached $16.67 billion, which is 51.56% higher than $10.99 billion during the same period of the previous year. More than $6 billion worth of smartphones were exported in April-November 2022, as per Department of Commerce.
This massive climb in mobile and electronics exports comes against the backdrop of India’s merchandise exports sliding 12.2% year-over-year (YoY) from $39.3 billion in December 2021 to $34.48 billion in December 2022, amid fears of recession in developed economies, especially Europe.
To make India a manufacturing hub, the government launched 14 PLI schemes, the largest of which is the smartphone PLI scheme, with an outlay of Rs 40,995 crore. Under the scheme, the government estimates a total incremental production of Rs 10.05 lakh crore, exports of Rs 6.5 lakh crore and direct and indirect jobs of up to 8 lakhs by 2026.