India allows restriction-free imports of laptops, tablets in policy dilution

By Shivangi Acharya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -The Indian government on Thursday decided to allow restriction-free imports of laptops and tablets, and launched a new system of “authorisation” aimed at monitoring shipments of such hardware without hurting market supply.

The new “import management system” takes effect from Nov. 1 and requires companies to register the quantity and value of imports, but the government will not reject any import requests and will use the data for monitoring, the officials said.

Its purpose is “to ensure that all this provides us with the kind of data and information we need to make sure that we have a completely trusted digital system,” said S. Krishnan, the top bureaucrat in the electronics and infotech ministry.

On Aug. 3, India imposed a licensing regime on laptops and tablet imports, but quickly deferred the decision following criticism from industry and Washington. That plan would have allowed the government to hold up or reject import requests while requiring a licence for every shipment.

The decision spells relief for global laptop makers such as Dell, HP, Apple, Samsung and Lenovo, which had been unnerved by the abrupt announcement of a licensing regime in August.

India’s electronics and software imports, which include laptops, tablets and personal computers, stood at $33.6 billion in the April to August period, up nearly 8% from last year.

India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) said it “extends its profound appreciation towards the government’s recent decision to maintain restriction-free imports of laptops and tablets.”

“The comprehensive and inclusive dialogue continues to bridge the gap between policy formulation and ground realities,” the industry body said in a statement.

Further measures could be taken after September 2024 on the basis of the data collected, Krishnan told a press conference.

(Reporting by Shivangi Acharya; Writing by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Kim Coghill, Clarence Fernandez and David Evans)