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India may consider technology transfer to develop local TV supply chains

In view of the high growth in demand for TVs in India, India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) recommends that the India government set up local TV supply chains. As it is not easy to set up a local TV panel supply chain competitive in production cost in India, the transfer of panel technologies from overseas panel makers could be a feasible strategy.

India has not yet begun to develop local TV supply chains and, in order to decrease reliance on imported TV panels and components of such panels, imposed a basic customs duty rate of 5% in November 2020.

ICEA recommends an investment of US$20 billion to develop local panel manufacturing industry and, for TV panels, in particular, set up 8.5th-generation LCD panel production lines to focus on the production of 47-inch or 55-inch TV panels.

Currently, about 35% of LCD TVs launched in the India market are imported, mainly from China and Vietnam, and the remaining are locally assembled with panels and components mostly imported, according to Digitimes Research.

Currently in the India market, 59% of LCD TVs are 32-inch models, while 39- to 40-inch ones account for 2%, 42- to 45-inch ones for 21%, 48- to 50-inch ones for 6%, 55- to 65-inch ones for 8%, over 65-inch ones for 3%, below 32-inch ones for 1%.

Being the mainstream size, a 32-inch LCD TV is priced at INR10,000-20,000 (US$135-270) at present, compared with INR15,000-25,000 for a 39- to 40-inch one, INR20,000-30,000 for a 42- to 45-inch one and INR45,000-60,000 for a 50- to 55-inch one.

The China model is a feasible way for India to develop a local panel manufacturing industry, that is, the introduction of experts from outside and establishment of panel factories via own investment, according to industry experts, adding that the model entails strong financial support.

Transfer of panel technologies could be an alternative to the introduction of talent from outside and is economical in time as compared with in-house R&D of such technologies. Viewing that South Korea-based panel makers have been shifting focus from LCD panels to OLED models while China-based fellow makers focus investment on domestic production and are quite unlikely to set up panel factories in India due to China-India tensions, Taiwan-based AU Optronics and Innolux may be the target sources for India to seek transfer of panel technologies.