NEW DELHI: In a surprise move, the government on Thursday imposed restrictions on imports of laptops, all-in-one personal computers and tablets. Imports of multiple laptops, computers and tablets would be allowed only against a valid licence. A notification on this regard was issued by the Director General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce.
While the aim of the move is to promote local manufacturing, commerce ministry official also cited security reasons for the same. “The restrictions were imposed for the national security of Indian citizens and to boost local manufacturing. Some of the hardware can have security related issues and could compromise sensitive and personal data. We have taken into account a few of them,” a government official said.
India imported $5.3 billion worth of computers, tablet, etc in 2022-23, down from $7.4 billion in the previous year. Research firm Counterpoint estimates India’s laptop and personal computer market to be worth $8 billion annually, with two third of those imported.
Tarun Pathak, research director, Counterpoint Research, said: The laptop/PC 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.
However, the government has given exemptions from the restrictions under certain situations. As per the DGFT notification, the restriction won’t be applicable for import of single unit of these goods, including those purchased through e-commerce portals.
The restriction will not be applicable to imports under Baggage Rules, which outline the goods an international traveller can carry in their baggage without attracting customs duty. Exemption from import license is also provided for up to 20 such items per consignment for the purpose of research & development, testing, benchmarking and evaluation, repair and re-export, product development purposes.
Such items, which are an essential part of a capital goods, will also be exempted from the import licensing requirements. While local manufactures have welcomed the move, trade analysts have raised concerns calling the move a reminder of license permit raj.
“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. “A. Gururaj, Managing Director, Optiemus Electronics Ltd said.