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RPT-UPDATE 1-India beckons big tech firms, allows imports of used goods for repair

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* Policy may attract firms like Apple amid US-China trade rowIndia want legal disposal of waste generated during repairIndia says imported items to be exported after repairs

NEW DELHI, March 28 (Reuters) - India on Wednesday allowed the import of used goods for repair and refurbishing on condition that the imported items are exported - a move that could entice companies like smartphone maker Apple further into the Indian market.

New Delhi has changed its policy at a time when the United States and its biggest trading partner China are on the brink of a trade war, with President Donald Trump announcing plans to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese goods. China plans to impose additional duties on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports, mainly in response to Washington’s import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The sparring has cast a spotlight on U.S. firms such as Apple, which assemble the majority of their products in China for export to other countries. Electrical goods and tech gadgets are the largest U.S. import items from China.

“Trump’s trade war with China could be a win for India,” said Neil Shah, partner at tech research firm Counterpoint.

China is currently among the top destinations for repair and refurbishment of electronic devices.

India wants waste generated during the repair and refurbishing of the imported items to be treated in line with local laws including health, safety and environment norms, a government order issued on Wednesday said.

The South Asian nation’s new policy on import of used goods could help smartphone makers such as Apple to cut cost as they battle rising manufacturing and labour costs in China, where a bulk of its pricey iPhones are made.

“(New Delhi’s policy change) will give someone like Apple an opportunity to tap India’s cheap talent for repairing phones and could potentially turn India into a global export hub for refurbished devices,” said Shah.

Apple has been in talks with the Indian government for months, seeking tax breaks and incentives to expand its operations in the country.

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment. (Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Nidhi Verma; Editing by Richard Balmforth)