India Also Practices Tech Protectionism vs China

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 5/17/2010 12:21:00 AM
It appears that what goes around comes around. A few months ago, multinationals operating in China were all angry about Circular 618, a law mandating that government bodies preferentially purchase technology products from local firms. It was the old "infant industry" strategy dolled up for a newer age. However, lots of pressure from foreign firms eventually resulted in a relaxation of these procurement requirements.

Interestingly, it appears that India, also keen on developing homegrown technology industries, is applying similar limitations on Chinese firms seeking to diversify their telecommunications business portfolio beyond borders. That old guise of protectionism, "security concerns," joins anti-dumping measures in a concerted effort to limit inroads made by Chinese suppliers. Indeed, their fear of China is such that phone companies are being made to buy from Western competitors even if it means higher costs. From Businessweek:
Facing increased competition at home and government pressure to expand overseas, Chinese telecom equipment makers have been looking toward India. The country is already the biggest export market for China's two leading phone gear manufacturers, Huawei Technologies and ZTE, and both companies have made India a top priority. "If [Indian] government policies are favorable," ZTE India managing director D.K. Ghosh said on Apr. 14, "we will further scale up our investments."

When it comes to China's Big Two, though, India's policies are hardly favorable. The government has sent letters to Indian phone companies saying they can't buy equipment from Huawei, ZTE, and several other mainland companies due to security risks. In April, researchers reported that Chinese hackers had targeted Indian defense computers. And in December, India banned many Chinese cell phones, also because of security concerns, and imposed anti-dumping duties on transmission gear from Huawei and other vendors. Huawei says it's committed to "the development of the Indian telecoms industry." ZTE says it adheres to Indian law.

[F]ew analysts doubt that China is the main target of the restrictions. "The Indians are incredibly paranoid about China," says David Zweig, a professor of politics at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology...

While India's phone companies could buy equipment from Western suppliers, they would pay far more. So carriers are lobbying the government for a change—and hedging their bets, says Sanjeev Aga, managing director at Mumbai-based Idea Cellular. "A lot of companies are finding suppliers in India," Aga says. Any resolution, though, may ultimately require talks between the two governments, says Kunal Bajaj, a partner with market research firm Analysys Mason. "There is going to be quite a bit of posturing between the two countries for some time," he says.
It's not very neighborly, eh?