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India puts curbs on laptop and tablet imports – here’s how it could impact you

India puts curbs on laptop and tablet imports – here’s how it could impact you
  • The Indian government has revamped its import policy to curb imports of laptops and tablets.
  • Import of laptops and tablets will now require a licence.
  • Here’s how the government’s new regulations could impact the common man.
The Indian government on Thursday revamped its import policy and announced curbs on importing several products, including laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs and more. While the import of these devices has not been banned, it can only be done by those holding a valid licence for restricted imports.

“Import of Laptops, Tablets, All-in-one Personal Computers, and Ultra small form factor Computers and Servers falling under HSN 8741 shall be 'Restricted' and their import would be allowed against a valid Licence for Restricted Imports,” the government said in a notification.

Update: The government has now deferred the import restrictions to November 1, allowing companies ample time to apply for licences and avoid issues.

“Keeping in view global supply chain arrangements and long-term commitments of the industry stakeholders, liberal transitional arrangements are notified for these imports till October 31, 2023,” said the government.

What does this mean?
So far, companies were to import pre-built or fully assembled laptops and tablets to the country without any licensing requirements. Now, companies will be required to licence the devices before they can import them to India.

What will be the impact?

The new import norms will require companies to licence laptops and tablets before they can sell them in India. This may not only cost the company money, it may also result in devices getting delayed when compared to earlier.

While companies who were caught by surprise by the sudden announcement are still evaluating the impact of the new regulations, a report from Bloomberg has revealed that HP, Samsung and Apple have already put a stop to imports of new laptops and tablets in the country.
Short term impact
While companies are evaluating the impact and are in talks with the authorities, the move may have an adverse impact on both the companies and the customers in the short term.

The decision comes just ahead of the festive season, where companies sell a bulk of their devices and customers usually plan their purchases to get the most out of discounts and bank offers.

"The government's move is aimed at promoting domestic production and reducing dependence on imports. The industry comprises around 12 million units, and this restriction may lead to some short-term supply disruptions, especially for brands like Apple, HP, and Lenovo. Moreover, with the festive season approaching, a significant period for sales, the industry may face challenges in meeting demand," said Tarun Pathak, research director, Counterpoint Research.

As companies will need some to move manufacturing, there may be some short-term impact on the prices and the availability. However, no company has changed the prices
Reason for the restrictions
The restrictions have been put in to boost local manufacturing of laptops and tablets, similar to how it pushed for local manufacturing of smartphones. With the new restrictions, the government may want big players to push the companies to assemble or manufacture their devices in India.

According to Pathak, the total laptop and PC market size is close to $8 billion and around 65% of these devices are currently imported to India.

In addition to the creation of more jobs, this move may also be aimed at curbing imports from China, which makes up for a majority of laptops and tablets imported into India.
Local companies hail move
While this move may not be seen favourably by some companies, domestic manufacturers have spoken in support of the government’s decision.

"We believe the government’s decision to curb the laptop, tablet, and computer imports is progressive and has the potential to boost indigenous electronics manufacturing in the country and also help in achieving Make-in-India vision,” said A. Gururaj, managing director, Optiemus Electronics in a statement to Business Insider India.

“We currently hold the PLI for IT Hardware and are manufacturing laptops for notable brands. With this move, we expect further expansion of our capacity to manufacture these devices,” he added.

"We are confident that valid licences will be provided to trusted industry partners which will enable ease of doing business and unrestricted access to trusted brands for digital consumers," said Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman, India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).


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