Contrarily, the number of smartphone import fell to 9.67 lakh last year from 24.44 lakh in the previous year
Local assembling of smartphones has increased manifold while their import has declined significantly, thanks to the new tax regime aimed at boosting employment and investment.
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 in the previous year.
Contrarily, the number of smartphone import fell to 9.67 lakh last year from 24.44 lakh in the previous year.
Industry insiders said that the tax benefit for local handset assemblers turned the tide against importers within a short time.
Currently, there is 57% customs duty on smartphone import while the duty on components of locally assembled smartphones is 15%.
Bangladesh Mobile Phone Manufacturing Association (BMPMA) Secretary General Jakaria Shahid told Dhaka Tribune that the government should continue the tax incentives so that the industry could grow further.
“Within a year the local production just more than doubled. If the government continues the policy, we will get a skilled manpower and the industry will go for exporting mobile handset,” he said.
He said the local assemblers paid the 15% value added tax to the government.
The government first introduced the tax policy for the local assemblers in 2017-18 fiscal year and it was revised in the budgets of 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Local brand Walton was the first in the country to assemble mobile phone handset in its own plant in October 2017.
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.
According to the BMPMA data, global brand Samsung’s plant assembles 96% of the products it sells locally. It imports only the flagship products and plans to stop importing from the first quarter of the current year.
Fair Group is assembling more than 1.5 lakh pieces of Samsung smartphones in its plant in Narsingdi. Currently, 8 lakh units of smartphones are sold in Bangladesh every month.
Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion Bangladesh, which has a plant in Gazipur, said the favorable tax regime by the government immensely helped the market of locally assembled handsets.
“In a short time, I would say this is a great achievement for the assemblers and as a whole this is an achievement of the country,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Transsion assembled 18.4 lakh handsets last year including 5.56 lakh smartphones.
In July 2019, Vivo inaugurated its new manufacturing plant in Rupganj Upazila, Narayanganj, which is their 5th manufacturing plant.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo will put together at least one million smartphones every year.
Currently, six assemblers-cum-importers out of the total nine are meeting more than 40% handset demand in the country and it will reach 55% after Vivo’s products hit the market, according to BMPMA data.
As per BTRC officials, a large number of smartphones come through illegal channel.
“We have already built an IMIE database and will soon launch a new system to detect and disable fake or illegal handset,” a senior BTRC official said.