India delays import restriction on laptops, tablets by 3 months

By Sarita Chaganti Singh and Shivangi Acharya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India will provide a transition period of about three months before a new licensing regime for imports of laptops, tablets and personal computers comes into effect, the country’s trade regulator said late on Friday.

This is a partial reversal from a surprise decision on Thursday to impose the licensing requirement with immediate effect, which had prompted calls for a delay.

“Import consignments can be cleared till October 31 withouta licence and a government permit would be required for clearance of import from November 1,” the government said in anotification.

Earlier in the day, a government official told Reuters that it was examining an industry request to defer the new import licence order by three to six months.

The government’s notification on Thursday did not give a reason for the action, which could affect technology companies such as Apple, Dell and Samsung and potentially see them boost local manufacturing.

The move was aimed at addressing the trade imbalance withChina, another government official told reporters.

Deputy IT and Electronics Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said the move was aimed to “ensure trusted hardware and systems” and reduce dependence on imports.

His ministry earlier in the day assured that the government would be prompt in issuing licences and not create supply gaps in the market.

It had said New Delhi will issue licences for companies to import laptops and tablets within two days. Licences can be obtained online.

To apply for the licences, companies will have to provide information on consignment origin, number of pieces and past import history.

(Additional reporting by Nikunj Ohri, Aftab Ahmed and Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Jane Merriman, Tomasz Janowski and Arun Koyyur)