At least two companies in Bangladesh announced plans to assemble smartphones locally after the government slashed the import duty on mobile components from 37 per cent to 1 per cent.

The Walton Group submitted an application to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to build devices under the company name Walton Dig Tech around two months ago, The Daily Star reported.

Walton Group invested BDT1 billion ($12.1 million) in a plant in Gazipur which will employ about 1,000 people. It aims to start assembly of six smartphone models early next month, with consumer deliveries targeted by year-end.

Another maker using the Symphony brand is also preparing to assemble mobile handsets domestically, the newspaper said.

In addition to the cut in custom duties, the government doubled the duty on imported handsets to 10 per cent.

Uday Hakim, operative director at Walton Group, told The Daily Star the company will initially aim to assemble 200,000 to 300,000 units a month, but in the longer term the capacity target is 5 million handsets annually.

Walton Group was the third largest importer of handsets in 2016 with nearly 2 million units shipped.

The country’s total handset imports rose 11 per cent in 2016 to 31 million units valued at BDT80 billion.