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Why is Apple Shifting from China to India a Big Deal?

Apple’s potential shift from China to India in terms of manufacturing and supply chain operations is a development that has captured global attention. It is a significant move with far-reaching implications, not only for the two countries involved but for the global tech industry and international trade dynamics. 

As the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, Apple’s decisions carry substantial weight, and its move away from China, where it has long relied on for manufacturing, is a big deal for several compelling reasons.

This shift represents a major milestone in the ongoing transformation of global supply chains and highlights broader economic and geopolitical shifts. China and India are both giants in the Asian region. Economic growth in one country often translates into economic decline in the other. This zero-sum relation between the two countries mean that any shift will have long term consequences in the relationship between the two countries. Let’s explore why Apple is shifting from China to India and what the impacts of this will be on the countries, the region and Apple itself. 

Apple’s Presence in China

Apple began its operation in China in 2001. It initially partnered with Foxconn in Zhengzhou to assemble iPads and iPhones. Later, they shifted their operations to the Shenzhen facility of Foxconn. China had an open, expandable market and expert manufacturing capabilities, which helped propel Apple’s growth. 

The company’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, operates a massive production facility in Shenzhen, China, often referred to as “Foxconn City,” where a substantial portion of Apple’s products, including iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, is assembled. 

China does not only produce and assemble Apple’s products; it also serves as a market for Apple’s products. China, under the presidency of Xi Jinping, has elevated massive amounts of people from poverty. An increase in per capita income of individuals has increased their buying power. 

Apart from its retail stores, Apple also has many warehouses in the country. These stores have not only served as points of sale but also as hubs for customer support and technical assistance. China is one of the largest markets for iPhones, with a massive user base, making it a focal point for Apple’s global sales and revenue.

That is not all, Apple also invests heavily in R & D centers in China. They focus on hardware and software innovations, thereby aligning their interests with those of China. Furthermore, the company has been involved in various corporate social responsibility initiatives in China, supporting environmental and renewable energy projects. 

All in all, Apple’s continued presence in China is a testament to the fact that the company is benefiting hugely from its presence in China. Apple leverages China’s resources, both in terms of consumption and production, thereby strengthening its global position in the tech industry. 

Why is Apple Shifting to India?

For years, Apple has been silent on India, now it is betting big on one of Asian’s fastest growing economies. Although Apple’s dependency on China may linger on for years or even decades; however, India could be the ‘next China’. Here are all the reasons why Apple is shifting to India. 

1. Manufacturing Capacity

Over the years, India has taken many initiatives to boost its domestic manufacturing capacity. According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, “India is moving very fast in the right direction. They’re reforming the tax code, the duty structures, and we’re pretty convinced that it is a great place to make things.”. Moreover, Apple has been capitalizing on schemes like the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, which provides financial incentives for manufacturing electronic devices in India. 

2. A Growing Market

With a population of 1.4 billion people, India offers a large and growing market for apple products. The country has also registered a sharp decline in poverty rates. The number of poor has decreased from 25% of the population to 15% in 2021. Moreover, the rural areas have witnessed a decline of around 12-13% in poverty rates. This has allowed more and more people to invest in the tech products. 

3. Local Sourcing Requirements

India has imposed local sourcing requirements for foreign companies that open retail stores. By shifting some of its production to India, Apple can meet these requirements. It can reduce its import costs and gain advantages in the competitive Indian market.

4. Cheap Labour

India also offers skilled labor at a relatively low cost than China and other developed nations. As a company operating in the capitalist environment, Apple wants to maximize its profits while minimizing its loses. Access to cheap and readily available labor helps Apple with its software development and manufacturing. 

5. Risk Mitigation

For a company as large as Apple, diversification of manufacturing locations is an excellent strategy. This helps mitigate risks, as political or economic instability in one region or country will not disrupt the entire supply chain. After covid, when supply chains were disrupted, so much so that companies faced heavy loses. Over-reliance on a single manufacturing hub (like China) can be risky, especially in a global economy with geopolitical uncertainties.

Risks of Apple Shifting to India

With Apple shifting to India, all is not a bed of roses. There are many things that the mega giant will have to process before it embarks on this journey. Here are some short-term and long-term risks associated with Apple shifting to India. 

1. Disruptions in Supply Chains

If covid 19 has told the world anything, it is that supply chain disruptions can wreak havoc in the status quo. With Apple shifting its operations to a whole new country, it can expect to face some issues in the supply and demand curve. Compared to China, India may have relatively cheap labor, but it certainly lacks skilled workforce and infrastructure. 

2. Quality Control Challenges

Ensuring consistent product quality in a new manufacturing location can be challenging. Apple may face quality control issues during the initial phases of shifting production to India. These challenges can reduce the trust placed on apple by its many, many loyal users. 

3. Geopolitical Risk

Although India and China reside in Asia, the geopolitical situation in India is relatively more insatiable as compared to China. The frequent tensions and skirmishes between India and Pakistan make for some challenges in the long run. Additionally, India’s regulatory environment is unpredictable with the congress taking abrupt actions on a whim. Changes in trade policies can put Apple in harm’s way. 

What is the Impact of Apple shifting from China to India

Apple’s potential shift from China to India can have significant implications, and here are five of the biggest impacts. 

1. Low Manufacturing costs for Apple

India will put less strain on Apple’s resources as China. The labor costs and production expenses are low. Since Apple will have to set up infrastructure first, the initial cost may be high, however, the cost will reduce as Apple establishes its ground in India. Moreover, Apple’s relocation can lead to more cost-effective iPhone production, which may translate into competitive pricing for consumers and potentially higher profit margins for Apple.

2. Supply Chain is Diversified

Over reliance on China has exposed Apple to geopolitical and trade risks. Moving some of its manufacturing to India allows Apple to diversify its supply chain, reducing vulnerability to disruptions, such as trade tensions or natural disasters. This gives Apple an upper hand on the negotiations table. 

3. An Increased Consumer Base

India is one of the most rapidly growing markets for smartphones. Additionally, its rising population and expanding middle class means that there are now more people who can afford Apple products than ever before. By setting up manufacturing industries in the country, Apple can not only reduce its costs of producing the phones, but also expand its consumer base. Local production can also lead to reduced import taxes and lower product prices, making iPhones more accessible to Indian consumers.

4. Economic Impact and Job Creation for India

Apple’s expansion in India can boost job opportunities and contribute to the country’s economy. It aligns with the Indian government’s “Make in India” initiative, promoting domestic manufacturing, investment, and job creation. This, in turn, fosters goodwill with the Indian government.

5. Environmental Sustainability

India is trying to shift towards renewable energy and that aligns well with Apple’s commitment to do the same. Since the ideologies match, it will be easier for Apple to set up industries that comply with international climate laws and maximize environmental sustainability. However, challenges related to infrastructure, logistics, and regulatory compliance will need to be addressed for a smooth transition.

What is the Impact of Apple shift for China

Apple is one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world so naturally its shift from China to India is not making the former happy. Here is how China will be impacted by this shift. 

1. Economic Consequences for China

Apple has been a major contributor to China’s economy, with a significant portion of its products manufactured in the country. A shift away from China may result in the loss of jobs, revenue, and economic activity in regions heavily dependent on Apple’s operations.

2. Supply Chain Adjustments

China is already losing the microchip war in 2023. With Apple shifting its manufacturing products, China is facing yet another blow. Apple’s departure could disrupt China’s vast manufacturing ecosystem. It may lead to shifts in the supply chain, affecting not only Apple but also the numerous suppliers, manufacturers, and logistics companies connected to its production.

3. Increased Competition

China and India compete for technological and economic prowess. With the shift from China to India, Apple is increasing the competitive landscape in the Asian region. It will now be up to Chinese local companies to fill the economic vacuum and up their production. Competitors like Huawei and Xiaomi could gain a more prominent market share, potentially boosting the domestic technology sector.

4. Geopolitical and Trade Tensions

USA, a staunch supporter of USA and the Narendar Modi government, is competing with China on the world stage. Apple’s move could be seen as a response to trade tensions between the U.S. and China. This shift may further strain diplomatic relations and trade dynamics between the two countries, affecting other industries and markets.

5. Increased Innovation

Countries like China respond better in crisis situations. This shift may offer some silver linings for China’s domestic market. China has been a critical player in the global tech industry, not only in manufacturing but also in research and development. Apple’s departure may impact collaborative innovation efforts and investments in Chinese tech ventures, potentially slowing down technological advancements.

What are The Global Implications of that Shift?

The Global implications for Apple shifting from China can look like supply chain diversifications, a greater focus on environmental sustainability, increased competition between growing economies and more competition. Here are some global implications for the shift. 

1. Supply Chain Diversification

Apple’s move underscores the importance of diversifying supply chains. It serves as a wake-up call for many global companies that heavily rely on a single country for manufacturing. This may encourage other multinational corporations to reconsider and diversify their supply chains, reducing their vulnerability to geopolitical and economic disruptions.

2. Global Manufacturing Systems Reshaped

A significant shift of Apple’s manufacturing outside of China could prompt a broader reshaping of global manufacturing hubs. Countries like India, Vietnam, and Mexico may gain prominence as attractive alternatives for manufacturing. This can lead to increased competition among nations to attract multinational companies.

3. Trade Tensions

The Chinese government is already of the opinion that the USA promotes policies that restrict China from fulfilling its full trade potential. This move can further deepen the tensions between the superpower and the rising superpower.  It could lead to retaliation or countermeasures by China, impacting global trade dynamics and causing ripple effects across industries. Geopolitical relations may become more complex as nations strive to protect their economic interests.

4. Improved Working Conditions

With Apple shifting its companies, there have been debates about increased labor rights and improved working conditions. The shift can enhance scrutiny on company policies. This is a positive impact of the shift because Apple has been accused of massively exploiting its labor in China and India may not allow the company to do the same in their country. 

5. Environmental Considerations

Companies like Apple are under increasing pressure to address their environmental impact. Relocating manufacturing to new regions may lead to a focus on sustainable and environmentally responsible practices. Governments and stakeholders in these regions may demand higher environmental standards.

Also Read: How to Save Our Earth From Climate Change?

Learn more about Key World Issues with Best Diplomats

With the advancement of technology and rise of Artificial intelligence on the global stage, it is no wonder that tech companies are getting more traction than ever. Any shift by an MNC can impact regional politics and geoeconomic policies of a country. The same is likely to happen in the case of Apple shifting from China to India. But this conversation is not as simple as it seems; there are a lot of nuances available. 

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China and India, both growing economies of the Asian Region, are also competing for more power in the status quo. With each country trying to undermine the power of the other, it will be interesting to see which country gets the upper hand when it comes to economic growth. Shifts such as these can be a growing concern for China as the Chinese National Party struggles to compete with other rising economies such as India. 

However, Apple shifting from China to India might not result in as many advantages for Apple and India as predicted. Factors like geopolitical tensions, disruption of supply chains and infrastructure creation may need to be dealt with first. 


What Apple products will be manufactured in India?

Apple initially started with iPhone assembly in India. However, the company may expand production to other products. While some of the products will be for the Indian market, others may be for export, contributing to the global supply chain.

Why is Apple shifting some of its manufacturing from China to India?

The main reason for this shift is that Apple wants to reduce its dependency on a single country to avoid any supply chain disruptions. Additionally, China wants to make use of the growing market of India. 

What impact will the shift have on Apple’s relationship with China?

China is one of the most important and crucial markets for Apple’s products. With this shift, there is likely going to be a strain between the relationship between China and Apple. Moreover, the competitive environment between India and China may worsen.

Will the move to India result in more affordable Apple products for consumers?

It’s possible that localized manufacturing in India could lead to cost savings, but the ultimate impact on product pricing depends on various factors, including local taxation and import duties.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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