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India not likely to extend import restrictions to more IT hardware items

India has no immediate plans of extending import restrictions that were imposed on laptops, computers, and tablets from November 1 to other IT hardware items not covered under the specific notification and is ready to share the information formally with other countries, sources have said.

“The government is clear that the import restrictions will only be limited to the IT hardware items mentioned in its notification for now. There are no plans to add other items to the list, and that will be the official stand on all platforms,” a source tracking the matter told businessline.

US’ query
The US recently raised a query at the WTO on whether India intended to extend import restrictions to more IT hardware items. A reply to the query was being framed, the source added.

On August 3, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a notification imposing licencing conditions on imports of laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, and ultra-small form-factor computers and servers applicable with immediate effect. Following protests from the industry, a three-month transition period, until October 31, was announced the following day.

The government said at the time that the move would address India’s security concerns, especially those related to items shipped from China, as well as boost local manufacturing, which was already being incentivised by the PLI scheme. A large part of the $7-8 billion of laptops, tablets, and computers imported annually into the country comes from China.

“The US government had first registered its concerns about the import restrictions on specific IT hardware items soon after the notification was issued. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai took up the matter with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, who assured her that the industry’s problems would be addressed,” the source said.

Import assurance
After extensive consultations with the industry, which included the India Cellular and Electronics Association representing companies such as HP, Dell, HP Enterprises, Apple, Acer, Asus, and Lenovo, the DGFT, on October 19, announced the operationalisation of a liberal online authorisation system to automatically issue import authorisations once importers entered the value, volume, and country of sourcing for the proposed imports.

“Importers of the specified IT hardware items now have an assurance that they will be allowed to import with no upper limit on quantity or value until September 30, 2024, as the authorisations are valid until that time. The import data collected during the period will determine the future decisions to be taken by the government,” the source said. The Hindu BusinessLine

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