Tech Firms Request 9-12 Month Delay on Laptop Import Limits.

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Apple, Acer, HP, Dell, and other prominent PC manufacturers have reportedly rallied together to urge the government for an extended timeline to secure licenses for the import of laptops, PCs, tablets, and similar items categorized under HSN code 8741. This plea comes as these IT hardware behemoths seek the opportunity to establish manufacturing facilities within India’s borders. In an effort to bolster domestic production, these industry giants are beseeching the government to grant a year-long extension to the existing deadline.

According to industry insiders present during discussions, PC manufacturers require sufficient time to establish robust manufacturing plants within the Indian landscape. The clarifications regarding the licensing procedure also emerge as a critical point of concern for these stakeholders.

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Notably, this decision doesn’t solely impact foreign entities; several Indian IT companies also heavily rely on imports, often originating from China. The government’s move to impose import restrictions on laptops and PCs from foreign sources is a calculated effort to invigorate local manufacturing. As per insights shared, the government has sought feedback from Indian OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to gauge their production capacities and the timeline necessary for a successful scaling up of operations.

An industry insider conveyed to ET, “The notification had said shipments enroute would be cleared. But from August 4, a day after the DGFT notification came, all shipments were being stopped. There was no custom clearance happening till almost late evening of August 5.”

In response to concerns, the government appears to downplay potential disruptions. An official statement emphasizes, “All these companies already have very well-oiled mechanisms for imports and know the process to get shipments cleared. We have, however, assured them of all help.”

The Government’s Directive and Long-Term Benefits

On August 3, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), operating under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, released a directive mandating PC OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to obtain licenses for importing laptops, PCs, tablets, and related products classified under HSN code 8741 into India.

While the immediate implications on the cost of laptops and tablets remain uncertain, end consumers might encounter incremental costs. However, this strategic move serves a broader purpose. In the long run, reducing dependence on imports, particularly from China, stands to benefit India’s economic resilience. This move is in alignment with the government’s overarching strategy, which includes advocating for production-linked incentives (PLI) within the IT hardware sector. The PLI scheme, revamped in May, has been allocated a substantial budget of Rs 17,000 crore – a twofold increase from the original 2021 budget. The current restriction on PC imports follows a precedent set by the government’s earlier measures concerning color TVs in 2020.

Subsequent to the initial release of guidelines, the government has extended the deadline for license procurement until November, allowing stakeholders additional time to navigate these transformative shifts in the industry landscape.

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