KARACHI: South Korean tech giant Samsung has been in talks with three investors for setting up a mobile manufacturing unit in Pakistan.

Sources said out of three parties, one has a franchise from Korea which has already set up vehicle assembling plants in Pakistan under Auto Development Policy (ADP) 2016-21, while other two are different parties.

They said so far no agreement has been signed as Samsung, after short listing various companies, is in the process of finalising its plan to award the licence to one of the companies for cellphone manufacturing.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker said in an earnings estimate on Wednesday that it expected operating profit of around 12.5 trillion won ($11 billion) for April to June, up from 8.15 trillion won a year earlier.

Companies being shortlisted for award of licence

“The Korean company aims to start local assembly of cellphones in the last quarter of this year,” a source, who is looking after the development in the mobile phone sector, told Dawn on Wednesday.

Market sources said Samsung may prefer the option to ink the agreement with one of the Korean companies operating in Pakistan owing to comfort level which it may not find with non-Korean firms.

The Engineering Development Board (EDB), an arm of the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoIP), approved Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy (MDMP) in 2020 and so far 21 companies have been given the green signal for mobile device manufacturing authorisation from March to June 2021.

As per EDB list, factories’ locations include Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad. Some prominent brand names include Nokia, Oppo, Infinix, Tecno, Itel, Vivo, Alpha, Realme, VGOTEL, DCODE, Calme, Xcell, Spice, TCL, Alcatel, etc.

Sources said that the government has framed MDMP to encourage foreign players to take a plunge in Pakistan for setting up cellphone manufacturing unit. The aim is to produce the product under the banner of “Make in Pakistan” and to discourage imports.

Cellphone imports, as per figures of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), have swelled by 63pc to $1.860 billion in 11MFY21 from $1.138bn in the same period last fiscal year.

According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, during July 2012 to February 2021, telecom sector has attracted over $3.9 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The FDI in telecom during July-February FY21 was $101.1 million. Telecom operators have invested an amount of $363.9m during July-December FY21.

The main driver behind this investment is the cellular mobile sector which has invested $253.5m during the period. The overall investment in the telecom sector during the first eight months of FY21 crossed $465m. Pakistan’s cellphone subscribers have reached 183.48m till May 2021.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021

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