ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Adbul Razak Dawood Wednesday said, Pakistan achieved “big success” in the manufacturing of mobile phones in 2021, with local production exceeding imports for the first time, and the country was now eying expansion into exports. Pakistan, a net importer of mobile phones prior to 2016, produced 22.12 million handsets during January-November 2021 and imported 9.95 million during the same period, data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shows. In 2020, Pakistan’s import of mobile phones was 24.51 million compared to 13.05 million sets produced locally. Various Chinese mobile phone manufacturers have played a key role in Pakistan’s production boom in 2021, according to the PTA. Local manufacturing plants assembled 9.03 million smart phones while the number of 2G mobile phones was 13.09 million. “I would say that our whole venture into manufacturing mobile phones has been a big success,” Dawood, adviser to the Prime Minister for commerce, said in an interview with Arab News on Wednesday. “It has been very successful because we now see that every month the number of mobile phones coming into the country is decreasing and the numbers that are being produced and sold locally is increasing.” The PM’s aide said the record levels of local manufacturing were achieved under a new “conducive policy” introduced by the current government. The Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy 2020 set a 49 percent localization target by June 2023, including 10 percent localization of parts of the motherboard and 10 percent localization of batteries. “We have developed a policy for local assembling of mobile phones … We are currently looking at becoming a world class assembler of mobile phones,” Dawood said. “We are right now concentrating on low-end mobile phone sets and we hope that soon we will be able to start getting into high-end phones with world class companies.” He said after achieving a milestone in manufacturing, Pakistan was eyeing exports to regional countries and Africa. We have started on an export journey, one or two containers have already moved out of the country. Our strategy is to get our mobile phone exported on a sustainable basis, ” Dawood said. “Our strategy is that we export to Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics and to Africa and as we become more and more experienced, we would be diversifying into the higher end market. We’re hopeful that [we can do this on a] sustainable basis sometime this year, 2022.” Pakistan’s mobile phone imports increased by 51 percent to over $2 billion during the last fiscal year while the import bill increased by 18 percent during the current fiscal year, July-November 2021, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.