ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s first mobile phones assembling unit will start production in April.

Haier CEO Zeshan Qureshi revealed this after meeting with Minister of State for IT and Telecom Anusha Rahman on Thursday.

“We intend to inaugurate first state of the art mobile phone assembling unit in April and have requested the Minister for IT and Telecom for formal inauguration,” said Qureshi.

He said a new building has been dedicated for the mobile phones assembly at Raiwind, Lahore. “Initially we will assemble around 200,000 handsets every month and hopefully, by the mid of April, our handsets will be in the market,” CEO said.

He said, after the launch of first product, the company plans to expand further depending upon the response from the market. We will initially assemble handsets but in coming future we plan to start manufacturing in Pakistan, Qureshi said.

He said the initiative was in the wake of new government policy to facilitate local manufacturing/assembling of mobile handsets.

Pakistan imports handsets worth $600 to 700 million annually; Ministry of IT is mulling hard to offer more incentives to Haier and other companies interested in starting assembly units in Pakistan.

We had been negotiating with Finance Division to get some concessions and breaks for Haier Company, but some of our recommendations were rejected and some were granted, said a top official of Ministry of IT.

He said that despite all the challenges and market factors, his Ministry was hopeful that soon its efforts will bear fruit and local assembling of IT and telecom products will start in the country, which will gradually result in local manufacturing.

According to Ministry of IT handout, Minister Anusha Rehman, during meeting with Haier delegation, appreciated their endeavour and shared that local manufacturing/assembling is at the core of telecom policy to complete the ecosystem of provisioning quality and affordable services to all for ubiquitous development.

She highlighted that special incentives have been provided in budget 2015-16 for promotion of local manufacturing/assembling. She further reiterated that after 3G/4G roll out, there was emerging demand of cost effective handset which gives substantial room for investment in this area. Minister assured the delegates that we are committed to provide all possible facilitation for this new mobile manufacturing business to establish mobile manufacturing industry in Pakistan.

Minister further said that Pakistan has educated and skilled young labor force which makes Pakistan an attractive destination for foreign direct investment and appreciated the role of Haier in playing a lead role in setting local manufacturing of smart phones and laptops that impacts directly on creating employment opportunities and building depth into ICT sector of Pakistan.

Haier plans to assemble around 150,000 laptops by the end of this year. We will supply around 200,000 laptops to HEC and we are hopeful, around 150,000 will be assembled locally, said the official.