Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $119.234 million during July 2021 as compared to $147.999 million during the same month of last year, registering a decline of 19.44 percent, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The PBS data revealed that on a month-on-month (MoM) basis, Pakistan’s imports of mobile phones dropped by 41.75 percent during July 2021 when compared to $204.677 million imported in June 2021.

The overall telecom imports into the country during the period under review (July 2021) decreased by 10.41 percent, decreasing from $176.90 million in July 2020 to $158.488 million in July 2021.

On an MoM basis, the overall telecom imports decreased by 38.15 percent during July 2021 when compared to the imports of $256.255 million in June 2021.

Other apparatus imports during July 2021 increased by 35.82 percent and remained $39.254 million compared to $28.902 million in July 2021. However, other apparatus imports declined by 23.89 percent when compared to $51.578 million in June 2021.

The Adviser on Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood, has stated that the government’s target is to bolster exports. The government wanted to rationalize imports by encouraging local production and stated that the local manufacturing of mobile phones has reduced the imports of mobile phones. Dawood said that Pakistan’s imports were high because it has always relied on trade that was not ‘Made in Pakistan’.

“Now we are implementing the policy of ‘Made in Pakistan,” he said, adding that “the best example of which is that the number of locally manufactured mobile phones has now exceeded imported phones”.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the production of mobile phones by local manufacturing plants has surpassed the number of mobile phones imports by the country during January-July 2021 as the local production was recorded at 12.27 million compared to the imported mobile phones of 8.29 million.

This trend reflects a positive uptake on the PTA’s Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Authorization regulatory regime whereby local manufacturing within the first year of the introduction of the regime has resulted in the production of 12.27 million phones in a short span of seven months, including 4.87 million 4G smartphones.

The successful implementation of the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) and conducive government policies, including the mobile manufacturing policy, have created a favorable environment for the manufacturing of mobile devices in Pakistan. It has also contributed positively to Pakistan’s mobile ecosystem by eliminating the market for counterfeit devices, providing a level playing field for commercial entities, and has forged trust among consumers due to the formulation of standardized legal channels for all sorts of device imports.

The government of Pakistan introduced a comprehensive mobile manufacturing policy to encourage and attract manufacturers to establish their units in Pakistan. In light of the policy, the PTA issued Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations on 28 January 2021. Until now, 26 companies have been issued MDM authorization, which has enabled them to manufacture mobile devices in Pakistan. The companies include renowned brands such as Samsung, Nokia, Oppo, TECNO, Infinix, Vgotel, and Q-mobile.

Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $2.065 billion during 2020-21 as compared to $1.369 billion during 2019-20, showing growth of 50.75 percent.

Due to the introduction of the DIRBS, legal imports have increased significantly and local manufacturing has also picked up the pace.

The government decided to introduce a comprehensive mobile manufacturing policy to encourage and attract mobile manufacturing players to come to Pakistan and establish their plants here.

The launch of the DIRBS has also had a significant impact on the development of the mobile device ecosystem as companies now have a level playing field.