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NEW DELHI—Apple Inc. has sought the Indian government's approval to open its own retail stores and sell products online in the South Asian nation, a senior official at the Trade Ministry said Wednesday.
Currently, the U.S.-based maker of the iPhone sells its products in India through a network of Indian-owned distribution companies and retailers.
"We have received the application filed by Apple India Private Ltd. and are examining it," Amitabh Kant, the top bureaucrat at the Trade Ministry's department of industrial policy and promotion, which initially scrutinizes foreign investment proposals, told The Wall Street Journal.
The company hasn't stated the amount it plans to invest to open the stores, Mr. Kant added.
An Apple spokeswoman, who asked not to be named, confirmed the filing Wednesday but wouldn't elaborate on the company's plans.
India allows foreign investors to own up to 100% of single-brand retail ventures they operate in India, with approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board—a panel of bureaucrats that gives the final go-ahead to foreign investment proposals for stakes larger than 49%.
Another official at the Trade Ministry, who didn't wish to be identified, said that it might take a few weeks to scrutinize Apple's application.
India's smartphone market is expanding quickly, and by 2017 should overtake the U.S. as the world's second-biggest behind China, according to research firm IDC.
"India has huge potential" for Apple, said Rushabh Doshi, an analyst at research firm Canalys in Singapore.
"The market is maturing," and opening retail stores in India helps "form the building blocks" for the firm in the country, he said.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 20, 2016 03:35 ET (08:35 GMT)
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