Customs officials at major Indian ports are holding back imports coming from China, Indian government and industry sources told Reuters on Wednesday. Among the goods held back are products from U.S. companies, including Apple, Dell, Cisco, and Ford Motor Company.
Although no official Indian government notice has been issued confirming the trade disruption, Reuters reports that a lobby group representing U.S. firms known as the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum addressed the holding of imports from China in a letter to India’s commerce ministry dated June 23.
“Authorities have abruptly halted the clearance of industry consignments coming in from China (and perhaps other destinations) at most major ports and airports,” the lobby group said in the letter, reportedly seen by Reuters.
On Wednesday, the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) revealed its members were recently told that airports in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai would have a “new examination procedure for all consignments coming from China,” Indian news site WION reported.
The trade impediments come amid heightened tensions between India and China. Last week, a violent military conflict erupted between the two countries’ border troops in the western Himalayas, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers and an estimated 40 Chinese troops. The latest border clash between the Asian neighbors amplifies an ongoing economic conflict between India and China, which has quietly intensified in recent months.
In response to the June 15 border attack, which Indians claim China initiated, Indian nationalist groups have demanded India boycott Chinese goods and entities. Most vocal in calling for a boycott of China has been Swadeshi Jagran Manchan (SJM), an economic affiliate of the Hindu nationalist parliamentary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). On June 17, over two dozen SJM members marched to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi to protest the Chinese border attack and denounce Chinese influence in India. At least 22 SJM protesters were detained by police after the demonstration for “failure to disperse.”
Last month, reports revealed that Apple will transfer “nearly a fifth” of its manufacturing from China to India. The news came on the heels of a new subsidy initiative announced in May by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which aims to stabilize India’s economy. The initiative is part of Modi’s larger plan to attract multinational corporations away from China and into India for purposes of manufacturing.
On Tuesday, Foxconn — the world’s largest contract manufacturer — became the latest entity to diversify away from China, announcing it would significantly increase its investments in India in the coming months. A key supplier for Apple, Taiwan’s Foxconn also supplies Amazon, Google, Dell, HP, as well as Chinese companies Huawei and Xiaomi.
In India, Foxconn serves as a contract manufacturer for Apple. “Electronic components” of Foxconn were among the products affected by the holding of imports from China by Indian port authorities this week, an industry source told Reuters.