US network gear maker Cisco on Wednesday announced it will manufacture products, including routers and switches, in Tamil Nadu to meet rising demand from Indian customers and to diversify its global supply chain.
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins also outlined plans targeting $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8.209 crore) of combined exports and domestic production from here amid the country’s aggressive positioning as a manufacturing destination for global players.
Robbins, who is currently visiting India met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and had a series of discussions with External Affairs Minister, S.Jaishankar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, NITI Aayog CEO BVR Subrahmanyam, and Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman.
Robbins said his discussion with the PM ranged from manufacturing to skills, and Cisco’s programs, and from Artificial Intelligence to 5G, and sustainability.
The Cisco CEO also met Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Monday, in what he described was a “good conversation”. Robbins said Cisco has “great relation” with telecom operators like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
“Today, we are announcing strategic investments in Indian manufacturing capabilities as the next step in delivering cutting-edge technologies to our customers in India and across the globe,” Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Cisco said.
India — fueled by a rapidly developing digital economy — is a focal point of innovation and business for the US networking giant, and the Cisco top boss said the company remains deeply committed to its partnerships here.
Cisco, however, did not divulge the quantum of investments it will infuse into the country.
The move comes at a time when India is looking to push manufacturing and position itself as a global hub, lining up enabling policies and dishing out incentives to woo international players.
The manufacturing facility will build Cisco’s technology, geared to provide cost-effective delivery of next-generation services and applications and support complex cloud computing environments, according to a company statement. The initial jobs are seen to be in the range of 1200.
The products can meet companies’ dynamic demands as they strive to foster agility in an increasingly hybrid, digital-first world, the statement added.
Cisco is now building core manufacturing capabilities in India, including testing, development and logistics, and expanding in-house repair operations. In addition to supporting supply chain resiliency, reducing lead times, and elevating customer experience, this will add further impetus to the local economy.
“India is of strategic importance for Cisco, and we continue to bet on India. Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone to power the next phase of growth for Cisco,” Daisy Chittilapilly, President, Cisco India and SAARC said.
India is a key market for Cisco and its second largest R&D centre outside the US. The company started operations in India in 1995. Cisco previously launched manufacturing efforts in India that were focused on the domestic production of Cisco products. Due to a lack of consistent demand and a supporting ecosystem, those production lines were closed.
This new initiative will focus on manufacturing for the Indian and global markets and aims to build an ecosystem of local suppliers.
The company currently has a 17-nation global manufacturing footprint. It plans to leverage Made in India products also for exports to the region and even Europe.
As the company announced its manufacturing plans for India, Robbins said Cisco will have the first products off the line in 12 months, and will expand to a wider array of Made-in-India products over a period of time. Cisco’s manufacturing in India will be through its contract manufacturers and partners, although the company did not divulge the names. Robbins said that the energy in India is “incredible”. “India has made tons on progress on digitisation. The ambition of India is very clear and momentum I felt here is incredible,” he said.
In a tweet, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said: “A good meeting with @ChuckRobbins, Chair and CEO, @Cisco. Discussed growing the India-US digital partnership.” Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar also tweeted, “It was a delight to meet @ChuckRobbins Chair & CEO, @Cisco and learn about their landmark decision to manufacture critical #telecom products for #NewIndia and the world. Look forward to strengthening Cisco’s partnership in #IndiaTechade, #CyberSecurity and #DigitalSkills.”