Oppo and Vivo, two Chinese companies, are among the global manufacturers producing the devices in Bangladesh. International mobile phone brands Nokia, Samsung, Vivo and others are increasingly choosing to set up manufacturing ventures in Bangladesh to avoid the South Asian country’s high import tariffs and get direct access to its large and growing population. Bangladesh has drawn increasing attention in recent years as its economy shows high growth rates. Bangladesh is continuously taking steps to attract foreign investment and increase local production and consumption through its “Made in Bangladesh” program. Local manufacturing of phones only began in October 2017 when Walton started production under its own brand. It has since made 1.7 million smartphones and 4.3 million older-style feature phones. A number of other companies now making smartphones in Bangladesh are local ventures. But Vivo and Realme have set up their own factories in the country. Nokia is just the latest manufacturer to make the move, following Samsung as well as China’s Oppo, Vivo, Transsion and Realme to adopt a strategy previously reserved for bigger markets like India and Brazil. Nokia, Samsung and Chinese makers including Vivo were enticed by government incentives. Due to an effective price gap of 15-26% between imported and locally assembled smartphones, domestic production has climbed nearly 80% of sales. Finance Minister A.H.M. Mustafa Kamal this month proposed extending the VAT exemption another two years. Another measure has been taken to block buyers of smuggled phones from registering their devices on local networks. “That will shut down the illegal import of handsets into Bangladesh, and local manufactures will get encouraged, as their market shares will go up,” Shahidul Alam, director-general of the BTRC, said. Atiqur Rahman, a private banker said, “We are now using ‘Made in Bangladesh’ handsets. We are proud of it.” He added that smartphone prices should go down further so that those with lower incomes also can buy high-quality handsets.
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