India accuses Chinese Oppo of $551M import tax evasion

In this image taken on May 9, 2017, a man with a phone walks past the logos of five smartphone manufacturers, including Chinese smartphone maker Oppo (R), outside a store in Shenzhen. – Chinese smartphone maker Oppo started out selling DVD players in Dongguan’s southern manufacturing hub just over a decade ago and only entered the mobile phone market in 2011. But with an aggressive marketing strategy and a focus on brick-and-mortar stores. stores in small and medium-sized cities – instead of relying on online shoppers – sales have skyrocketed. (Photo by Nicholas ASFURI/AFP)

NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — Indian authorities on Wednesday accused Chinese smartphone maker Oppo of $551 million worth of customs evasion. It is the latest tech company from China to be scrutinized by local investigators.

The Government of India said in a statement that the Indian Fiscal Intelligence Authority (DRI) has found evidence that Oppo has been misusing duty exemptions for goods imported for use in mobile phone manufacturing.

DRI officials searched Oppo India’s offices and residences of key executives, the report said, and found “evidence pointing to willful misidentification of certain items imported by Oppo India for use in mobile phone manufacturing.”

Relations between New Delhi and Beijing soured following a deadly military standoff in the Himalayas between the countries in 2020.

The search makes Oppo the latest Chinese tech company to hit the New Delhi spotlight after similar raids against Vivo, Xiaomi and Huawei earlier this year.

India’s Home Ministry has also banned hundreds of mobile apps of Chinese origin, including the hugely popular social media platform TikTok.

The government justified the bans as a necessary defense against threats to Indian sovereignty.

Anti-Chinese sentiment in India has surged since a fatal 2020 troop clash, prompting calls for a consumer boycott of Chinese goods.

China continues to be India’s key economic partner, with bilateral trade totaling more than $125 billion last year.

India has the second largest number of smartphone users in the world after China.

In 2021, its smartphone market grew 27 percent year-on-year, with annual sales exceeding 169 million units, according to technology research firm Counterpoint.

Oppo India, which also operates other brands including OnePlus and Realme, is one of the largest smartphone vendors in the country.

Oppo, owned by China’s BBK Electronics, said it has a “different opinion on the allegations.”

“We believe this is an industry-wide issue that many corporations are working on… we are going to respond to (the) notice by presenting our point of view,” the company said in a statement.

© Agence France-Presse