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India's commerce minister to meet with Apple to talk local manufacturing & offices

India's Commerce and Industry minister is reportedly meeting with Apple leadership in Davos, Switzerland in January to hash out further plans for manufacturing in India, including the possibility of setting up new corporate offices.

Local developers brushing up on Apple platforms.

Local developers brushing up on Apple platforms.


"We are still talking to Apple. Negotiations are ongoing. If they agree, we will like them to set up offices in India as well. I am meeting Apple's top leadership in Davos in early January," Suresh Prabhu told India's Economic Times.

"When their offer came two-three years back and today, the situation has changed for them as well as for us. So, it is a good time to meet and discuss and finalize," he continued, adding that the government can "look into" and negotiate concessions the company is insisting on. Apple has been aiming to score a duty exemption on manufacturing and repair units, components, capital equipment, and consumables for smartphone manufacturing and service/repair for 15 years.

It has also been seeking breaks on customs duties, plus some level of exemption for local sourcing rules, which demand that single-brand retailers get 30 percent of their components from India.

It's uncertain whether any sort of breakthrough might happen in Davos, as both Apple and the Indian government have seemingly been reluctant to drop demands. The latter party has previously said that it won't give Apple any concessions unavailble to other businesses.

Apple is in a tough bargaining position, as while the Indian government is keen to boost local manufacturing and create jobs, the company is a minor player in the local smartphone market with a share of just 1 percent. iPhones are vastly more expensive than most Indians can afford, which has allowed rivals like OnePlus and Samsung to swoop in.

Apple has refused to build new low- or mid-tier phones for markets like India, instead choosing to sell older models at lower prices. In fact what iPhone assembly does take place in the country is for models like the iPhone 6s, hardware treated as outdated in most parts of the world.