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Apple's plan to sell used iPhones in India officially gets rejected

Luckily for the Cupertino, California-based company, it still has hopes of opening up its own retail stores in the populous nation.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If Apple wants to bolster its presence in India, it will have to find ways other than selling old iPhones.

At a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, India's commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government has rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished iPhones in the country, reports LiveMint.

"We are not in favour of any company selling used phones in the [country], however certified they may be," she said.

This is a big blow to Apple, as selling refurbished devices was its biggest bet to attract Indian customers. The vast majority of smartphones sold in the world's second most populous nation have a price tag under $150. A typical new-generation iPhone in India sets a user back by around $700.

Selling refurbished iPhones would have allowed Apple to offer its iconic smartphone at a dramatically lower price point without sacrificing its premium branding.

Fortunately for Apple, there is some good news when it comes to opening its own stores in India, its other big strategy in the country. The finance ministry recently told Apple that if it wished to open stores in the country, it would have to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods. Sitharaman noted that she was in talks with the finance ministry to reconsider offering Apple a waiver from these local sourcing rules.

The announcement comes after Cook's maiden visit to India as Apple CEO. During his four-day stay in the country, Cook met with several telecom heads, as well as India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also announced an iOS design and development centre in Benguluru and a Maps development centre in Hyderabad.