1 VALE EVACUATES 200 PEOPLE FROM TOWN NEAR ITS MAR AZUL MINE WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/17      2 TOOTH PLAQUE SHOWS DRINKING MILK GOES BACK 3,000 YEARS IN MONGOLIA WWW.SCIENCENEWS.ORG  PUBLISHED:2019/02/17      3 INCREASING NUMBER OF CHINA-EUROPE FREIGHT TRAINS SUPPORTS MONGOLIA'S ECONOMY: OFFICIAL WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/17      4 TAX REVENUE INCREASES BY 33.7 PERCENT WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/17      5 COPPER MINER'S $10B BET COMES TO LIFE IN PANAMA JUNGLE WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      6 TRADE UNIONS REQUEST PM TO FOCUS ON INTEREST RATE CUT WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      7 MONGOLIA’S HOURLY WAGE TO REACH USD 1 WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      8 US NARCOTICS BY POST TO MONGOLIA! THREE ARRESTED WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      9 WRITER D.URIANKHAI NOMINATED FOR THE NOBEL PRIZE WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      10 MONGOLIA-CHINA-RUSSIA ECONOMIC CORRIDOR BENEFITS ALL SIDES: OFFICIAL WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/15      “ОЮУ ТОЛГОЙ” КОМПАНИ 570 ТОННЫ ДААЦТАЙ CAT БРЭНДИЙН ГИДРАВЛИК ЭСКВАТОРООР ХҮЧЭЭ СЭЛБЭЛЭЭ WWW.GOGO.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     ӨРХИЙН САРЫН ДУНДАЖ ОРЛОГО 78,000 ТӨГРӨГӨӨР ӨССӨН Ч ЗАРЛАГА ДАВСАН ХЭВЭЭР БАЙНА WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     АВСТРАЛИЙН ЭЛЧИН САЙД ДЭВИД МЭТЬЮ ВОСЭН ИТГЭМЖЛЭХ ЖУУХ БИЧГЭЭ ӨРГӨН БАРИВ WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     2018 ОНД МОНГОЛ УЛСЫН ЭДИЙН ЗАСАГ 6.9 ХУВИАР ӨСЛӨӨ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     МХБ: II/15-НЫ БАЙДЛААР 8 КОМПАНИ ХЭХ-ЫН ТОВОО ГАРГААД БАЙНА WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     2017 ОНД 1.9 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙН АЛДАГДАЛТАЙ АЖИЛЛАСАН “УЛААНБААТАР БҮК” 2018 ОНД 566 САЯ ТӨГРӨГИЙН АШИГТАЙ АЖИЛЛАВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     ОРХОН ТҮҮХИЙ НҮҮРСНЭЭС ТАТГАЛЗСАН АНХНЫ АЙМАГ БОЛНО WWW.UNUUDUR.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     АТГ-ААС НЭР БҮХИЙ 6 ШҮҮГЧИЙГ ШАЛГАЖ ЭХЭЛЖЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/15     МОНГОЛ УЛС ДЭЛХИЙН 77 ОРОНД БАРАА ЭКСПОРТОЛСНООС ХЯТАДАД 93%-ИЙГ НЬ НИЙЛҮҮЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/14     АВТО МАШИНЫ ИМПОРТ 2018 ОНД 30% ӨСӨЖ, 86,296-Д ХҮРЧЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/14    

Events

Name organizer Where
“Doing business with Mongolia”, “UK Investors show” бизнес хөтөлбөр March 27-April 02. 2019 ЛОНДОН ХОТ, ИХ БРИТАНИ Mongolian Business Database London UK
SYMPOSIUM ON GLOBAL MARKETS Nationalism and Protectionism: The United States in the International Arena June 17-18, 2019 The Center for American and International Law Plano, Texas, USA The Center for American and International Law (CAILAW) Plano Texas June 17-18 2019
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

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Gunmen kill eight Hazara miners in Afghanistan www.reuters.com

Unidentified gunmen killed eight members of Afghanistan's Hazara minority who were working as miners in the northern province of Baghlan, a local government official said.

Faiz Mohammad Amiri, governor of Taleh va Barfak district, said the eight dead and three other wounded, who all came from Daykundi province in central Afghanistan, had been pulled out of a vehicle and shot on Friday.

He blamed the Taliban, which controls the district where the incident occurred but the insurgent movement denied any involvement.

"The people working in this mine had our permission and we had good relations," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. "They hadn't created any problems."

He blamed "arbakis" or members of informal local militias, in the area for the killings.

Hazaras are a Persian-speaking, largely Shia minority, who have faced a long history of discrimination and violence in mainly Sunni Afghanistan.

Last year, scores of Hazara were killed in a series of attacks in Kabul, some claimed by Islamic State in an apparent attempt to stir sectarian tensions.

The incident underlines the dire security situation in the country, where government forces now control only two-thirds of national territory and violence is a daily occurrence.

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14 coolest tech products from CES 2017 www.cnn.com

Thousands of tech companies descended on Las Vegas for CES 2017 this week to show off what they think you'll buy in the coming year.
Although we saw more of what dominated the tech scene last year -- smart home products, wearables and enough Amazon Echo partnerships to make your head spin -- some new products shined brightly above the rest.
From an underwater drone to the car of the future, here's a look at what impressed us most.

1. Toyota Concept-i

Toyota unveiled a concept car to highlight its vision for what cars may look like in 2030. With see-through glass doors, wheels built directly into the body and a bright white interior and exterior, the future is looking pretty sleek.
While you'd think we'd be riding in self-driving vehicles by then, the car isn't fully autonomous. Toyota believes you'll still want to drive yourself around 14 years from now.

2. Willow breast pump

New moms will appreciate the attention paid to baby tech this year. Willow's breast pumps were a standout, offering a quiet, hands-free and cordless approach to pumping on the go (and tracking how much you pump).

3. PowerRay drone

The high-flying trend will (once again) be out in full force in 2017. We saw pocket-sized drones and ones that follow you around, but PowerVision's underwater drone -- called the PowerRay -- took a clever approach by bringing the concept down under. The waterproof drone can swim 30 meters below water and uses sonar to help recreational fisherman better track fish.
Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi, the drone sends alerts to users back on land when fish are nearby. It'll even capture 4K video and photos, so you can replay the moment you caught your dinner.
Official pricing hasn't been announced, but it will be in the $3,000 range. Pre-orders start in February.

4. PowerEgg drone

Also from PowerVision, the PowerEgg is an egg-shaped collapsible quadcopter. It's unlike a drone we've ever seen before. Weighing in at about 4.5 pounds, the drone pops out of the plastic casing when it's time to fly.
It features on board GPS, a 4K camera and relies on your iOS or Android device for processing power. You can buy it now for $1,288.

5. LG 'wallpaper' TV

LG's new flagship 4K OLED TV is incredibly thin and light. Called the W -- for "wallpaper" -- it adheres to the wall with magnets. It's designed to look like you're watching TV through a window or picture on the wall. It comes in 65-inch and 77-inch options.

6. PicoBrew

PicoBrew ($200) is a homebrew kit that takes just a few hours to create 5 liters of beer. The device, which launched a Kickstarter campaign last fall, has more than 40 beer options for users to choose from. It's also easy to keep components sanitized -- an important piece of home brewing -- through its cleaning system.
But PicoBrew might not be novel for long. Anheuser-Busch and Keurig announced on Friday they are collaborating on an in-home alcohol drinks system.

7. Moro robot

The Moro robot does all of your chores, such as pouring drinks, picking up groceries and folding laundry. At about four feet tall, the white cylindrical robot -- with arms but no face or eyes -- moves in all directions. The system includes voice and facial recognition technology to take task requests and learn who is commanding it over time. There's no official launch date, but it comes with a hefty $30,000 price tag.

8. Motiv smart ring

Wearables are everywhere, but the Motiv smart rings packs everything you need into one small package. Unlike other smart rings, such as the Ringly, it's main focus is fitness. Motiv collects stats like your daily steps, heart rate, goals and distance and pushes that data to your smartphone. Available in gray or rose gold titanium device, it looks just like a traditional ring.
It also comes with standalone GPS, so there's no need to take your phone on runs to track your data. It will cost $200 when it launches in the spring.

9. Snoo bassinet

The Snoo bassinet is a robot that rocks your baby to sleep. The product went viral late last year, but we finally got a look at it in action. The Snoo, developed by renown designer Yves Béhar, rocks newborns to sleep when crying. Along with producing slight humming noise, the experience recreates how babies feel in the womb and aims to help little ones -- and parents -- sleep better at night. The Snoo also prevents babies from rolling over via a sleeper outfit that clips onto the bassinet's sides.

10. Vuzix glasses

Vuzix wants to succeed where Google Glass failed. The company's sunglasses pair with Android devices and display what's on the screen in the right lens. You can watch videos, get directions and read text messages via the small projected image is small. The glasses can be controlled with your voice or a touch pad on the right stem. The left lens is for snapping photos through its built-in camera. The Vuzix glasses will launch in the second half of 2017. Price is still unknown.

11. Little Fish smart speaker

Baidu's Little Fish smart speaker has potential to be the Amazon Echo of China. The Chinese technology company, often referred to as the Google (GOOGL, Tech30) of China, announced a device with a built-in screen that can control appliances, music and connected devices.
Baidu uses its own AI tech and doesn't rely on Amazon's Alexa system like other smart speaker assistants (we're looking at you, Lenovo). Price and availability hasn't yet been announced.

12. Sony projector

Sony's $25,000 projector is a pipe dream for most, but it's hard not to be wowed by what it does. The VPL-VZ1000ES model turns any room into a home theater. The projector weighs in at 77 pounds and can project a 100-inch image onto a wall just six inches away. It's available for pre-order now and will start shipping it in the spring.

13. Rapael smart glove

Rapael's smart glove reminds us how powerful tech can be. The glove helps rehabilitate stroke patients through virtual activities like darts and card games played on a compatible app. It wraps around the wrist, and sensors track patients' motion and improvement as they progress through therapy. Physicians and clinics around the world already use the Rapael glove, but it's now available for patients to rent for $99.

14. Lego coding kit

Tech isn't just for adults. Lego launched an innovative building and coding set that brings movement to Legos. Kids can build five different smart toy models, including a cat, robot and guitar, with the help of sensors and motors. The kit works alongside a corresponding app, which features 60 coding activities. It's also possible to add voice recordings via the app to give toys the ability to speak.

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Toyota Motor stresses benefits to US www.nhk.or.jp

Toyota Motor is responding to criticism from US President-elect Donald Trump by highlighting its contribution to job creation in the United States.

Trump on Thursday condemned the Japanese automaker for building a factory in Mexico, which is to begin production in 2019. He tweeted a message saying, "NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax."

Toyota plans to respond that it has 10 plants in the US, employs 136,000 people there, and is contributing to the US economy.

Toyota officials say they do not intend to revisit plans for the new factory. They say the plant in Mexico will not affect Toyota's production or workforce in the US.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda is scheduled to attend the Detroit Auto Show next week.

Other Japanese automakers with plants in Mexico, including Nissan, Honda and Mazda, are becoming increasingly concerned.

They are planning to carefully monitor the economic policy of the incoming Trump administration.

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Japan, France to work toward free trade deal www.nhk.or.jp

The foreign ministers of Japan and France have agreed to work toward a broad free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union at an early date.

Fumio Kishida and Jean-Marc Ayrault held talks in France on Friday.

The ministers agreed that Japan and the EU would seek a broad agreement on an Economic Partnership Agreement at the earliest possible time to promote free trade amid concern over protectionism.

They also confirmed that they will coordinate their response to Britain's exit from the EU to minimize its effect on companies.

Kishida said after the meeting that Japan and France share basic values. He said Tokyo wants to deepen cooperation with the major European country in the fields of security and defense and continue working toward international peace and prosperity by upholding the free trade policy.

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Boeing believed close to $10b buy from SpiceJet www.chinadaily.com

Indian budget airline SpiceJet Ltd is poised to order at least 92 Boeing Co 737 jetliners - as the carrier maps out a rapid expansion in the world's fastest-growing air traffic market.

The transaction, which would more than double SpiceJet's 49-plane fleet, may be closed within weeks, after lengthy talks that pitted Boeing against rival Airbus Group SE, sources with direct knowledge of the decision said.

The deal includes firm orders for at least 50 of Boeing's 737 Max model and renegotiated terms for 42 of the single-aisle jets that SpiceJet originally ordered in 2014, the sources added.

The 92 Max jets would be valued at about $10.1 billion at current list prices, before the discounts that are customary for large purchases.

The order would be a record for SpiceJet, which was forced to shut down operations for a day two years ago after it ran out of money, prompting co-founder Ajay Singh to bail out the low-cost carrier. The airline may boost the total number of planes bought if final talks yield bigger discounts and favorable maintenance contracts, one source said.

Boeing would gain a stronger toehold in India, where Airbus dominates narrow-body fleets after a string of order victories. IndiGo, Go Airlines India Pvt and the local unit of AirAsia Bhd all fly variants of the Airbus A320.

"We expect to complete these negotiations and place the order this financial year," the airline said in an emailed statement. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.

The order would help SpiceJet, India's second-biggest budget carrier, compete with market leader IndiGo, which has ordered hundreds of Airbus jets to tap surging air-travel demand from a fast-growing middle class.

While IndiGo controls about 42 percent of a market that has seen local carriers almost double to 11 in the past four years, SpiceJet has about 13 percent.

SpiceJet shares extended gains for a third day, rising 2.3 percent to 64.60 rupees (95 cents) as of 9:25 am in Mumbai on Friday, the highest intraday level since Nov 30. Boeing shares were little changed at $158.71 in New York on Thursday.

India is crucial for Boeing and Airbus and both offered aggressive discounts to SpiceJet.

Boeing, whose jets dominate the current SpiceJet fleet, has the advantage of close financial ties. As the carrier's financial condition worsened, Boeing provided assistance with payments to help it cope with the situation. That earlier deal, which is still on the manufacturer's books, will now become a part of the new order, the people said. SpiceJet operates a fleet of 32 Boeing 737 jets and 17 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, according to the company.

Bloomberg

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Japan firms log record new vehicle sales in China www.nhk.or.jp

Three major Japanese automakers say they sold a record number of new vehicles in China last year.

Nissan Motor says it sold 1,354,600 units, up 8.4 percent from the previous year. Honda Motor reported more than 1,247,700 vehicles sold, up 24 percent and Toyota Motor 1,214,200 units, up 8.2 percent. Each of the firms topped its sales goal.

China's automobile market grew by double digits thanks to strong demand for sport utility vehicles and government incentives such as tax reductions for smaller models.

But an industry group expects the pace of sales increases will slow this year partly due to the scaling back of tax breaks.

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Trump Rhetoric Raises Specter of 1930s-Style Trade War With Asia www.bloomberg.com

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to shrink a trade deficit with China through punishing tariffs wouldn’t just hurt the world’s second-biggest economy -- it would also damage the rest of Asia too.

That’s the increasing view of economists who say the risk of significant Trump-triggered trade tensions could slow growth in the world’s best performing region, which accounts for 67 percent of America’s goods trade deficit, according to a Morgan Stanley.

“Donald Trump’s campaign proposal to impose hefty tariffs on China has raised the specter of 1930s-style trade wars,” said Priyanka Kishore, lead Asia economist at Oxford Economics in Singapore. “While we attach a low probability to a full-blown escalation, economies across Asia will have to brace themselves for rising protectionism amid subdued global growth and rising Western populism.”

Kishore added that another risk is that Trump goes beyond targeting expected areas such as iron and steel, and imposes new trade restrictions on textiles, electronics, cars, computers and more. Under such a scenario, she said the pain would spread well beyond China because of the potential downstream impact.

China is prepared to step up its scrutiny of U.S. companies in the event Trump takes punitive measures against Chinese goods, according to people familiar with the matter. The options include subjecting well-known U.S. companies or ones that have large Chinese operations to tax or antitrust probes, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Complex Picture

A smartphone exported to the U.S. may only be assembled in China with parts sourced from other countries in Asia. However, headline trade statistics don’t necessarily capture that supply chain. Instead, they label the phone as a Chinese export, distorting its trade balance with the U.S.

Analysis of foreign value-added content of China’s exports shows how complex the picture is.

“China accounts for only 16 percent of electronic and computer imports into the US, while the rest of Asia-ex Japan accounts for a similar share and Japan 8 percent,” Kishore said. “But standard trade statistics show that China’s share in total U.S. imports of electronic products is more than 40 percent.”

Twitter Pronouncements

Since winning the U.S. Presidential election, Trump has backed up fiery campaign rhetoric toward China with a series of pronouncements on Twitter and the appointment of China hawks, including Peter Navarro, to key roles. Navarro has blamed China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization for eroding America’s manufacturing base.

“The recent shift in political rhetoric in the U.S. has increased the risk of potential policy changes related to trade,” Morgan Stanley economists led by Hong Kong-based Chetan Ahya wrote in a report. “As these potential policy changes are aimed at improving the U.S. position in global trade, Asia will be a main focus.”

China, Korea and Japan would be the worst affected given they sell more to the U.S. than they buy back and because of their roles in a deeply intertwined regional supply chain, according to Morgan Stanley. Vulnerable industries include telecommunications, computers and cars.

Chinese state media has warned the country can fight back, saying that Trump will be met with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties.

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans,” the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper wrote in an editorial Thursday.

Trade Retaliation

China can also retaliate against U.S. investment in China by targeting sectors like electronics and textiles. As the world’s second biggest financier of U.S. government debt, it could also respond by selling down its holdings of Treasuries. Then there’s the nuclear option: devalue the yuan.

“This could the first step towards, the first step on a long ladder, the end of which is a 1930s-style environment where we’ve got collapsing global trade, we’ve got default on debt, we’ve got international relations gradually falling apart, eroding, and we’re back into that environment,” Erik Britton, a director at Fathom Consulting in London, said on Bloomberg Television.

While a sudden move to sell Treasuries or weaken the yuan look unlikely, for now, China would still likely hit back, said Chi Lo, greater China senior economist at BNP Paribas Investment Partners in Hong Kong.

“Trade retaliation is very likely,” he said, noting that U.S. investment in China is higher than Chinese investment in America. “This means that the U.S. would be hurt more by China’s retaliation than it could hurt China. This also implies that the US does not have much leverage over China in a trade war.”

It remains to be seen by just how much the President-elect will deliver on fiery campaign rhetoric but, for now at least, the risk of a full blow trade war remains remote. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in China on Friday called for an easing of trade tensions.

Yet the risk remains.

“The possibility that a Trump administration will impose substantial, across-the-board, trade tariffs on trading partners cannot be completely ruled out,” said Oxford’s Kishore.

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Russia will win energy and diplomacy games in 2017, predicts Forbes www.rt.com

The last months of 2016 brought strategic largesses for Russia from three ‘rather unfriendly corners’ - the US, Japan and Qatar, Forbes magazine wrote. Those benefits will allow Russia to play from a position of ‘enormous’ strength this year, it added.

In a December article, Forbes contributor Nishtha Chugh said Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, as well as multi-billion dollar energy deals with Japan and Qatar, were the “perfect gift” for Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two-day state visit to Japan could “serve as a primer for anyone looking to do business with Russia in 2017”.

Sixty commercial deals were inked between the two countries during that December meeting. Among those deals energy agreements signed by Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft and a conglomerate of Japanese companies.

“Potentially billions of dollars will flow between Japan and Russia on joint offshore exploration, the construction of another LNG plant in Sakhalin and a gas pipeline connecting Hokkaido,” Forbes said.

According to the magazine, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to host to the Russian President, even at the risk of violating sanctions against Moscow, showed Tokyo’s “strategic weakness and desperation to improve ties with Russia.”

Trump’s victory had also signaled changes in Russia’s political and economic fortunes, creating strategic uncertainty for Japan, said the article.

Trump’s choice of former Exxon chief Rex Tillerson for his secretary of state was called America’s present to Russia. Tillerson's close ties with Moscow “diminishes Japan’s scope for playing the potential mediator between America and Russia.”

Another important pivot toward Russia came from Qatar, Forbes said, pointing to renewed relations and energy cooperation between the two countries.

In December, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund along with commodities trader Glencore signed a deal to buy a 19.5 percent stake in Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft. The deal worth $11.3 billion has become the biggest privatization deal in Russia, according to Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin.

While some experts saw Qatar’s deal with Russian Rosneft as a reflection of pragmatism in its foreign policy, that pragmatism could play to “Russia’s benefit in global muscle-flexing.”

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Huawei warns Trump over 'Made in US' plans www.asia.nikkei.com

LAS VEGAS -- U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may think 'Made in America' is great, but China's leading smartphone maker Huawei Technologies certainly does not think so.

American companies have actually benefited from the low-cost manufacturing China has provided over the years, said Huawei chief executive for consumer business group Richard Yu. His comments came after his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The U.S. now generates more "high-end, high-tech" jobs, and bringing low-cost manufacturing back to the U.S. may only lead companies to risk losing money, he said.

"If [companies] move all manufacturing to the U.S., some manufacturing is not good for U.S. companies, because costs will likely increase," Yu said. "If you move all that [low-cost] manufacturing to the U.S., you'll damage the U.S."

Yu's statement came as the world's third-biggest smartphone brand, shipping around 100 million handsets annually, is trying to establish its foothold in the U.S. At the same time, Trump is pushing U.S. companies and even foreign ones selling in the American market to manufacture locally.

Huawei introduced its premium $599.99 M9 handset at the CES. It is the first time that the Chinese smartphone company will make a flagship model generally available in the U.S.

Yu said that while his companies does not have plans to set up manufacturing operations in the U.S., it has already opened several research and development centers there, including offices in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Rising tensions

Huawei also said that the company procures more than $8 billion worth of components from the U.S. annually.

Huawei relies on key iPhone maker Hon Hai Precision Industry -- known as Foxconn Technology Group -- Singapore-based Flex, and China's own BYD for smartphone assembly.

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China nibbles at Samsung share to take 50 percent of India's smartphone market www.reuters.com

Chinese brands took their largest ever slice of the $10-billion Indian smartphone market in late 2016, accounting for more than one in every two phones sold - a growing market share that ate into sales from top-selling Samsung Electronics.

Samsung, the single most popular smartphone brand in India, commanded a roughly 30 percent market share just over a year ago. That slipped to 21 percent in November, according to tech research firm Counterpoint, the last month for which data is available.

Meanwhile - thanks to low cost, improved technology and an advertising blitz - Chinese brands like Oppo, Lenovo, OnePlus, Gionee and Xiaomi took a combined share of over 50 percent, compared to just 19 percent a year ago.

"Chinese brands are offering quality that is at par with Samsung, at a better price," said Manish Khatri, who owns two multi-brand smartphone outlets in Mumbai. "Of every 10 phones I sell, almost six to seven are now Chinese brands."

Celebrity endorsements from Bollywood actors like Hrithik Roshan and Ranveer Singh, along with huge sponsorship campaigns by brands such as Oppo and Gionee of the wildly popular Indian Premier League cricket franchise have helped improve perception of Chinese brands - once derided for their low quality.

"In a country like India, there are two religions - one is Bollywood and the second is cricket," said Arvind R Vohra, Gionee's India head, noting that both avenues have helped popularize its brand.

Chinese brand executives said innovative product features such as powerful selfie cameras with flash, quicker charging and longer-lasting batteries have also helped them thrive in India, one of the world's biggest and fastest growing smartphone markets.

In the large and ultra-competitive $120 to $440 mid-market smartphone segment, Chinese vendors have more than doubled their market share to 68 percent, while Samsung has lost 14 percentage points since November 2015, according to Counterpoint.

"Being a global company is Samsung's biggest curse," says Neil Shah of Counterpoint, adding Samsung cannot compete on price like their Chinese rivals, who are focused more on low-cost markets like China, India and Indonesia.

Shah said Chinese vendors' access to low-cost components and their expertise in designing metal casing for cheap phones has let brands like Oppo, OnePlus and Lenovo offer better quality products than Samsung, which uses plastic for its cheapest models.

Adding to Samsung's woes last year was the arrival of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's new telecom venture Jio, with heavily subsidised handsets to get customers on its 4G network.

Dyaneshwar Sarde, a 33-year-old Indian farmer who earlier used a Samsung device, said he wanted to buy a 4G smartphone to use Reliance Jio.

India's home-grown brands such as Micromax, Lava and Karbonn are feeling the heat even more, according to Counterpoint, with their total market share having dropped to less than 20 percent from over 40 percent last year.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Randy Fabi)

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