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ICEA urges government to rethink laptop, tablet, PC import policy

India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) – which represents leading electronics and smartphone players – urged the government to rethink the new import policy on laptops, tablets, and servers, raising concerns about consumer prices, bilateral relationships, and growth of the digital economy in India.

The development came a day after Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister for communications and IT, said the industry had not raised concerns on the import licensing requirement.

In a letter to Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), ICEA said that the industry was going through a difficult period and any policy change could disrupt supply chains “was not advisable.”

It added that the industry may take at least one to two years to have meaningful assembly and supply chain operations.

“Regarding the import management policy, we enquired about any concerns from the applicants, and they did not raise any issues,” the minister said while speaking at a press briefing about the applications under the IT hardware production-linked incentive (PLI) 2.0 scheme.

In a move that took the biggest manufacturers of computers, including Dell, HP and Apple by surprise, the government earlier this month announced that the imports of laptops, tablets and personal computers restricted in a bid to push local manufacturing.

The import of electronics products including small tablets, laptops and all-in-one PCs would need a valid license after October 31.

“Another overarching factor that should be taken into consideration in avoiding supply chain disruption till domestic production ramps up is that any reduction in supplies or even an indication will lead to hoarding and market distortion. This in turn can push up consumer prices, which will adversely impact not just key stakeholders such as students, but also those who are the core of growing the digital economy, i.e. start-ups, IT and ITES firms, BPOs,” the industry body said.

A total of 40 companies have expressed interest in commencing manufacturing of personal computers (PCs), laptops, tablets, servers, and edge computing devices within the country under the PLI 2.0 scheme. Major global PC manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Foxconn (via a subsidiary), Asus, Acer, and Flex, have submitted their applications ahead of the Wednesday deadline.

ICEA said the scheme holds “tremendous home” but it also suggested that the Government should make an objective assessment of how the PLI 2.0 scheme starts to positively impact domestic production.

“Realistically, nine months after the PLI for IT Hardware has been launched, the government may undertake a re-assessment of the investment pipeline and the supply situation before inviting the industry to discuss whether any further policy intervention is needed at that stage. It may be too early to assess the full implication of the new scheme before then,” the industry body added. Business Standard

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