POST TIME: 13 March, 2020 10:14:58 AM
Coronavirus takes toll on local mobile handset production
Independent Online/UNB

Coronavirus takes toll on local mobile handset production

Local manufacturers fear that a prolonged epidemic may severely affect cellphone handset production in Bangladesh.  “The production rate may drop by 30 to 40 per cent,” Zakaria Shahid, managing director of Edison Group, the parent company of Symphony, and also general secretary of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (BMPIA), expressed the fear while talking to the news agency recently. Zakaria said although the local companies are manufacturing different handsets in their factories they import most of the raw materials from China. But China shut many of its factories following the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently, nine factories are manufacturing handsets of different brands, including that of Samsung, Symphony, Walton, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, Vibestar, Kingstar and Transsion in the country, he said. “Due to novel coronavirus, a stalemate has been created in China recognised as the global hub for mobile handset production. The import of electronic raw materials from there has partially remained stopped for several weeks as the country is now almost isolated from the rest of the world. If the situation prolongs, we may have to suspend mobile handset production due to shortage of raw materials,” he said.

Raw materials import from China has dropped by 50 per cent in recent weeks. If the situation lingers, Bangladesh factories would suffer the short supply of raw materials for their production. Even, the production rate may fall by 30 to 40 per cent soon, he said, Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion Bangladesh, a subsidiary of Transsion Holdings, said around 60 per cent of the handsets currently available in local markets are manufactured in the nine factories of the country. Coronavirus has affected Bangladeshi mobile handset market as raw materials import from China has declined to a large extent.

“We’re failing to launch new products due to the shortage of raw materials. Besides, our production has slowed down. The situation will worsen if the crisis prolongs,” he added. According to BMPIA, Walton, Symphony, Transsion, Vivo and Oppo do not import handsets directly. They all assemble the handsets in local factories after importing raw materials. Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, chief marketing officer of Fair Electronics, local manufacturer of Samsung handsets, said, “We import most of the raw materials from China. We’ll face problem if this situation lingers.”

Currently, the Fair Electronics is locally manufacturing around 1.2 to 1.3 lakh handsets. “The number may fall to 30,000 to 40,000 if the raw material crisis is not over,” he added. The concern over coronavirus is growing as the death toll from it has reached 4,633 globally as of Thursday. Besides, it has infected 126,367 people around the world, according to worldometer.

Of them, 53,430 are currently infected while 68,304 patients (94 per cent of total infected) recovered. Expressing alarm both about mounting infections and inadequate government responses, the World Health Organization on Wednesday declared that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic but added that it is not too late for countries to act.