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Import curbs boost Indian TV manufacturing, Viera group says

FILE PHOTO: People celebrate as they watch a live broadcast of India's second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, inside an electronics showroom in Kolkata

By Manoj Kumar

NOIDA, India (Reuters) - India's ban on smart TV imports two years ago, and tax incentives for domestic producers from federal government and many states, have boosted local manufacturing, said an official at Viera group, one of the fast-growing producers of smart TVs.

In July 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration imposed restrictions on TV imports, mainly to contain imports from China and to boost local manufacturing.

India's imports of TV sets had grown to nearly $1 billion a year in 2019, according to industry estimates, and major brands were increasingly outsourcing to manufacturers in China.

Import curbs have proved a boon for many producers including Viera, which is now making 7,000 TV sets a day, said Sharan Maini, a director at the company.

"We are in a sweet spot today," Sharan told Reuters in an interview on Thursday, noting company profits had more than doubled in two years while revenues had tripled.

Smart TV prices have come down as local producers expanded output, partly helped by state incentives like subsidised land, better infrastructure, and labour training, he said.

The smart TV market in India grew 74% year-on-year in the second quarter, driven by the launch of affordable products and rising consumer demand for home entertainment, a report by market researchers Counterpoint said last month.

Viera, which previously had a small unit producing TVs, washing machines, and air coolers, has invested more than 1.2 billion rupees ($14.7 million) to set up a new plant in four acres of land, said Sharan, who owns the company with his brother and father.

It plans to invest 800 million rupees more in the next months, he added.

The company has set up its research and design unit, and purchased software licences from Google TV and Android, to produce for more than a dozen retail brands such as Tata group-owned Croma, and T-series, company officials said.

"Except imported semiconductors, we are using more than 50% of local inputs in manufacturing and plan to expand it further," said Sharan.

($1 = 81.7540 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Mark Potter)