Apple’s move into India ‘almost a done deal’

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iPhone in India
iPhones will soon be made in India.
Photo: CC: Aasif Iqbal J/Flickr

Apple is close to finalizing its negotiations with the Indian government over a local manufacturing facility, according to a new report.

The company confirmed on Wednesday that it had enjoyed a “constructive” meeting with Indian officials after issuing a list of demands for its move. Now a source with knowledge of the matter says “it’s almost a done deal.”

Apple is keen to expand into India, reportedly alongside manufacturing partner Wistron. A local iPhone assembly facility could help the company reduce the price of its smartphone in a fast-growing market where it’s currently too expensive for the vast majority of consumers.

However, Apple won’t bow down to the strict rules that the Indian government has set for local businesses. Instead, it has requested perks like tax breaks and tariff exemptions, and relaxed guidelines for things like product labelling.

It looked unlikely that Indian officials would be willing to meet these requests, but the country seems eager to secure Apple’s business. “It’s almost a done deal,” said a source speaking to The Wall Street Journal. “Many of the incentives are workable.”

A separate source, who reportedly works closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, confirmed the government’s intention is to “settle with Apple.”

It’s unclear how long it would take Apple to setup a manufacturing facility in India once a deal has been struck, but it certainly seems to be a priority for the company. India is already one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets, with shipments up 18 percent last year.

In comparison, global shipments rose just 3 percent. India’s pace is expected to help it overtake the U.S. to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market (after China) soon.