The Indian government has stated that it won’t enforce licensing or similar constraints on laptop and computer imports. Instead, it is establishing a mechanism to track the volume and source of these imports.
A statement from Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal was issued two weeks ago to address the misinformation about potential laptop import restrictions.
“On laptops, we are of the view that there are no restrictions as such. We are only saying that somebody who is importing these laptops has to be under close watch so that we can look at these imports. It is basically monitoring, which we are doing. It has nothing to do with restrictions as such,” Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said.
These remarks carry significance as the government had previously announced in August that products like laptops, tablets, and computers would require licensing, effective November 1.
Explaining further, Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Santosh Kumar Sarangi said there will be an import management system, which will come into place on November 1.
In August, the government imposed import restrictions on laptops, computers (including tablet computers), microcomputers, large or mainframe computers, and certain data processing machines with a view to boosting domestic manufacturing and cutting imports from countries like China. Following this notification, the IT hardware industry raised concerns.
India already has an import monitoring system for certain products like steel, coal, and paper. The licensing conditions on imports were put in place on the grounds of security and to spur domestic manufacturing of these products.
According to a report by think-tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), India is critically dependent on China for day-to-day use and industrial products like mobile phones, laptops, components, solar cell modules, and integrated circuits.
The government has taken several steps to boost domestic manufacturing of electronic items, such as rolling out the production-linked incentive scheme and increasing customs duties on the number of electronic components.
India imports about $7-8 billion worth of these goods every year.
The country has imported personal computers, including laptops, worth $5.33 billion in 2022-23, as against $7.37 billion in 2021-22.
Imports of certain data processing machines stood at $553 million in the last fiscal year, as against $583.8 million in 2021-22.
Similarly, imports of microcomputers and processors stood at $1.2 million in the last fiscal year, compared to $2.08 million in 2021-22.
In May, the government approved the Production-Linked Incentive Scheme 2.0 for IT Hardware with a budgetary outlay of ₹ 17,000 crore.
(With inputs from PTI)