India has introduced an immediate import restriction on laptops, tablets, and personal computers.
The move is believed to be aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and targets China, the origin of 75% of India’s imports of such devices, worth $5.33 billion in 2022-23, as frosty diplomatic ties persist between the two Asian economic powerhouses, a report by RT said.
India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry declared on Thursday that, with immediate effect, the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, and other such devices, is banned. Seven categories of HSN (Harmonised System of Nomenclature) under Code 8471 are now blocked, except for special permissions.
According to the publication, the new rules don’t apply to passengers carrying ‘restricted devices’ purchased abroad.
The import ban allows some exemptions, for R&D, testing, benchmarking, repair work, and re-export, as well as for product development.
The ministry stated that exempted devices may not be sold in an open market and that “after their intended purpose, the products would either be destroyed beyond use or re-exported.”
The latest policy decision is being seen as a direct boost to New Delhi’s production-linked incentive scheme for IT hardware, according to The Indian Express.
The government unveiled the $2-billion Make in India scheme in May, upgraded from its $892-million initiative of 2021, both aimed at promoting domestic manufacturing of items such as laptops, personal computers, servers, and other computing hardware.
Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association, an apex industry body comprising manufacturers, brand owners, technology providers, distributors, and retailers, welcomed the announcement.
He also praised the goal to “secure digital access to the burgeoning number of digital citizens in the country,” which will improve the “ease of doing business.”
In 2020, New Delhi restricted the import of various types of color TV sets, including LCDs, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (Self-reliant India) campaign.
Official data at the time showed India’s television industry pegged at around $2 billion, of which 36% was catered to by South East Asian countries and China. Dell and HP are among the major players that already have manufacturing facilities in India.
Now New Delhi wants to further expand its ‘Make in India’ program by attracting more electronic giants such as Apple and Samsung, to help India emerge as a global manufacturing hub for electronics.
Currently, this sector’s value is estimated at $140 billion, with domestic production accounting for 62%, according to Invest India, a government agency.
According to data shared in parliament last year by the Ministry of Electronics and IT, even though the value of imported electronic goods and components increased over the past three years –to $69 billion in the financial year 2021-22– the government’s efforts appear to have reduced the proportion of imported goods by 5%, from 69% in 2019-20 to 64% in 2021-22.