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India wants to quadruple electronics biz in just four years

Minister says it needs to copy Vietnam and China's 'first globalize, then localize' strategy

India's Ministry of State for Electronics & Information Technology released a report this week exploring how the subcontinent might increase electronics production by roughly 400 percent and exports by an ambitious 750 percent by 2026.

"The government is laser-focused on achieving the target of $300 billion electronic production by 2026," said Electronics and IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Monday.

The target for electronics exports by 2026 is $120 billion. The report was written in conjunction with the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA). It was designed to help the government pinpoint the challenges to get to this extremely ambitious goal from where India currently stands: it manufactures electronic goods worth $76 billion at present, with just $16 billion of that sent to export.

Chandrasekhar remained optimistic that India would reach its goal, thanks to what he claimed were "deep tectonic irreversible changes" that have sparked momentum and opportunity. After all, the country "travelled a long way since 2014" when the domestic electronics industry had essentially collapsed. He did, however, admit that India must begin to export "aggressively" to meet those targets.

The report itself [PDF] looks to China and Vietnam to see how those countries succeeded at increasing exports to $900 billion and $100 billion respectively.

"Drawing on the experience of successful electronics exporting nations, this study finds that the chance of success depends crucially on how the two broad goals – exporting at scale to the global market (globalize) and increasing the share of domestic value addition (localize) – are pursued," wrote the study's authors.

The report concedes that without a competitive ecosystem of suppliers, India is unlikely to succeed at reaching its target numbers. It says that the country should therefore follow in the footsteps of China and Vietnam and prioritize exports, a tactic that Chandrasekhar posited would bring supply chains into place.

"We have always emphasised on strengthening our domestic manufacturing ecosystem to make India more resilient to supply chain disruptions," said the minister.

The authors pitched the slogan "first globalize, then localize," and even named the paper "Globalize to Localize: Exporting at Scale and Deepening the Ecosystem are Vital to Higher Domestic Value Addition in Electronics."

Actually moving beyond the slogan into implementation will require two fundamental changes to policy that both touch on deregulation.

The first policy change suggestion is to temporarily suspend localization requirements and duties while supporting free trade so that India has access to the cheapest suppliers globally – at least until India's electronics sector reaches global scale.

The second policy change addresses building the ecosystem of suppliers by "improving business climate, removing unnecessary regulations, helping with technology transfer and supporting services, training of workers, better sharing of market information, investment in R&D, and targeted fiscal incentives – through cooperative collaboration with the state governments and the private sector."

The electronics sector is also the first recipient of India's Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. The program offers a total of $10 billion in subsidies to be divided up and used to defray the cost of building homegrown tech. Foxconn has already raised its hand and taken a chunk in exchange for manufacturing semiconductors in India. Dell has decided it's in as well, for PCs and similar products, as have many others. ®

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