Coronavirus outbreak: Local smartphone assemblers fear production slump

Ahmed Shawki
Published : 03:00, Feb 16, 2020 | Updated : 03:00, Feb 16, 2020

Representational image FILE PHOTO The country’s growing smartphone assembling industry fear production fall for scarcity of raw materials as lion's share of the required backward linkage stuff is sourced from coronavirus-plagued China.
Last year, for the first time in the country's history, local assembling took the lead over smartphone import, buoyed by tax benefits for the assembling industry.
As per the latest data of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), in 2019, the number of locally assembled smartphone increased to 20 lakh from 7 lakh the previous year.
In contrast, the number of smartphone import fell to 9.67 lakh last year from 24.44 lakh the previous year.
"We are very concerned over the ongoing situation centring the novel coronavirus as most of our raw materials come from China. Earlier, we imported raw materials in bulk to overcome the crisis due to the extended Chinese Lunar New Year holidays. But if the shipment continues to remain suspended for another week or so, our local market will face a huge shortage of made-in-Bangladesh smartphone,” said Bangladesh Mobile Phone Manufacturing Association (BMPMA) Secretary General Jakaria Shahid.
He said should the shipment become normal from next week, the market would still see shortage of phone due to increased lead time.
“Now there will be more screening and inspection on imported raw materials from mainland China which will impact the manufacturing of smartphone and availability in the market,” he added.
In 2018, the government allowed nine companies to assemble mobile phone handsets locally.
The companies are Walton Digi-Tech Industries, Fair Electronics, EDISON Industries, Carlcare Technology BD, Alamin and Brothers, Anira International, OK Mobile, Transsion Bangladesh and Best Tycoon (BD) Enterprise.
Currently, six assemblers-cum-importers out of the total nine are meeting more than 40% handset demand in the country, according to BMPMA data.
The outbreak of the virus began in December last year in central Chinese city that already spread to more than 10 countries.
Tension is mounting around the world, with China confirming 1,523 deaths from the virus as of Saturday and 66,492 cases of infection reported globally since the outbreak.