LONDON — Amid forecasts of declining iPhone shipments, Apple is looking to India to reinvigorate sales, with plans to begin assembling its high end handsets at a Foxconn plant in Tamil Nadu in the south of the country.

According to reports, Foxconn will start assembling some of the more recent iPhone X series devices at its plant in Sriperumbudur near Chennai, in southern India. Since Foxconn is currently producing the Xiaomi phones at this factory, the company is plannign a new $356 million iPhone production that will create about 25,000 jobs.

Foxconn Factory in India

Apple's plans to manufacture in India were rejected by the Indian government in 2017, due to Apple’s demands for duty exemption and a relaxation of the 30% mandatory local component sourcing requirement. However, it is believed that ministers requested new proposals and are expected to make an announcement when India’s commerce and industry minister, Suresh Prabhu, meets Apple executives at the World Economic Forum annual summit in Davos, Switerland later in January.

Last week, Citi Research slashed its estimate for first-quarter production of iPhones by 5 million, bringing unit sales down to 45 million. Citi also nearly halved expectations on the most expensive iPhone XS Max. Analyst William Yang said the iPhone is entering a destocking phase, which does not bode well for the supply chain.

Coupled with the trade war between the U.S. and China and the ban on some iPhones in China, Apple appears to view India as the next possible growth market. It already sells the iPhone 6S and 6E in India, made by Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron in Bengaluru. But since its higher end phones are mainly imported, the high handset cost makes it unattractive for a cost-conscious market. Hence the company appears to be lobbying to obtain tax concessions and incentives from the government so that it can assemble phones locally and reduce the end-user cost for the Indian domestic market.

Apple Iphone back view