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Huawei readies return to Brazilian smartphone market

Chinese firm eyes opportunities in the consumer space and aims for threefold growth in its local enterprise business.

Huawei is planning to make and sell smartphones in Brazil again after withdrawing from the local consumer market three years ago.

According to the firm's vice president for Brazil, Liu Wei, Huawei is making a thorough assessment of the current conditions of the smartphone market. The executive did not specify dates, but said the company plans to re-enter the consumer business in the coming months.

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"The year of 2018 is going to be very important for us here in Brazil. We are currently carrying out a lot of marketing research, talking to channels and engaging with the government ahead of the relaunch," Wei told ZDNet.

The company has learned a few lessons from the time it was operating in the Brazilian consumer market between 2013 and 2015. That's why the market research will be crucial to the company as it plans its return to the consumer space, Wei said.

"You need to have a good presence within the channel, a good end-to-end service including an efficient after-sales process. Being customer-centric is key, " the executive pointed out.

It is also unclear which smartphone models will be available in Brazil after the relaunch, but according to Wei it is likely to be a mix of entry-level and higher-end products. Some devices would be imported, while most would be produced locally.

Huawei is currently active in Brazil through its Carrier Network Business Group (CNBG), its telecoms equipment and networks operation and ICT solutions provider Enterprise Business Group (EBG). The goal for the latter is ambitious: Wei is aiming for a threefold revenue increase for EBG in 2018.

CNBG is supported by a distribution center in Sorocaba (102km away from São Paulo). This site is where local and international components are handled and is also home to some parts of the production for telecommunications infrastructure products are performed - Flextronics is Huawei's local partner for the remainder of the manufacturing process.

According to Wei, the Sorocaba facility may expand to accommodate the local smartphone production, but the company is also considering other locations nationwide.