Apple moved a step closer to securing its plans to manufacture iPhones in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, and production could reportedly begin by the end of April.
The company, which first entered talks with the government late last year over its plans, will put together the phones in Bengaluru (Bangalore), capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka, Bloomberg reported, citing an interview with Priyank Kharge, the state’s information technology minister.
The state itself released a statement, cited by numerous press outlets, welcoming Apple’s proposal, while Kharge further gave a sign on Twitter a deal was in the offing.
“Apple’s intentions to make iPhones in Bengaluru will foster cutting edge technology ecosystem and supply chain development in the state,” he said.
Although there is not yet any official word from Apple, CEO Tim Cook said in the company’s quarterly earnings call this week India “was a great place to be”.
Cook added: “We are in discussions on a number of things, including retail stores, and fully intend to invest significantly in the country.”
Should it go ahead with the plans, Apple will initially begin manufacturing at a plant set up by its Taiwanese manufacturing partner Wistron, Kharge told Bloomberg.
Apple may still face hurdles to any plan to produce iPhones in India, with no word yet regarding whether it succeeded in a bid to secure a number of concessions from the Indian government related to tax and sourcing.
Indian officials in January said they did not intend to give Apple any special treatment.
The manufacturing deal, while good for Apple as it places a heightened focus on a growing smartphone market amid a slowdown in more mature markets, is also notably beneficial to India and prime minister Narendra Modi.
Modi is pushing for companies to make products in the country, as part of his “Make in India” policy.