India says no proposal to restrict Chinese phonemakers in sub-$150 price range

India is not proposing to restrict Chinese smartphone manufacturers from operating in the sub-$150 price range, a key minister said Monday, providing relief to scores of international giants in the world’s second largest handset market.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s junior IT minister, said at a press conference that while the nation feels an obligation to ensure that local firms flourish in the smartphone ecosystem, “there’s no such proposal in our ministry,” he said of the rumored plan.

Chandrasekhar’s remark contradicts a Bloomberg News report from earlier this month that said India was planning to use official or unofficial channels to restrict Chinese smartphone makers in the affordable price segment.

Executives from Xiaomi, which holds the tentpole position in India, were also puzzled about the existence of such a proposal, saying in their quarterly earnings call earlier this month that the firm hadn’t heard from the Indian government or any of its agencies.

Chinese smartphone makers dominate the market in India, according to market research firm Counterpoint.

Local smartphone makers Micromax, Lava and Karbonn ran high-margin businesses for over half a decade in India, selling handsets they secured from Chinese phonemakers in a whitelabel arrangement. But things fell apart when several of those Chinese firms officially entered India and began selling superior handsets at much lower prices, pushing out Indian firms’ subpar offerings from the market.

Many Chinese firms are finding it difficult to enter India or continue their existing businesses as New Delhi tightens rules following a border clash with China in 2020. India has since banned more than 300 Chinese apps including TikTok, UC Browser and Tencent-backed PUBG.