Government to delay implementation of laptop, PC import curbs

Officials admit that due to the DGFT import restriction notification taking ‘immediate effect’, some in-transit hardware shipments are being held up at ports; imports will now be allowed without licence till November.

Updated - August 05, 2023 09:00 am IST

Published - August 04, 2023 09:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A laptop showroom in Chennai.

A laptop showroom in Chennai. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on August 4 delayed Thursday’s notification restricting imports of laptops, PCs, tablets and servers to India ‘with immediate effect’ to November 1, after Customs officials stationed at ports of entry started holding up electronics shipments. Government officials sought to provide assurance to industry that most applicants seeking licences for import of the restricted electronics products under the new regime would receive them promptly upon filing the required application.

Two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that while it was not intended to have import licencing of these products impact shipments that were already on their way to India, Customs “field officers” had worked to implement the new rule immediately after it was notified by the DGFT. The government would now work to clear these shipments, the officials added.


The officials asserted that the move was an effort “to bring in self-sufficiency in electronics production,” even as they stressed that the import curbs had nothing to do with the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for IT hardware, which represents the Government’s most significant effort to boost laptop, PC and server manufacturing in India.

On hold
The DGFT clarified that it implementation of import curbs notified on August 3 will now take effect from November
Until October 31, IT hardware can be imported without licencing
Government will now work to clear shipments held up, say the officials
Move is an effort “to bring in self-sufficiency in electronics production,” officials speaking on condition of anonymity aver

When asked about the economics of local manufacturing — most IT hardware in the now-restricted category is imported from China where most major PC suppliers have manufacturing facilities — one official admitted that the response to the PLI scheme’s previous iteration had not been “as expected,”. The official added that ‘over time’ the cost of domestically produced hardware would come down, without, however, providing any timeline for this.

‘No ban’

In spite of the sweeping wording of the notification, the Government asserted that the import restrictions would not amount to a hurdle even for importers going forward. Most import licence applications from now on would be cleared within “five to 10 minutes,” one official said, with an information note pegging this timeline at 1–2 days. 

The officials did not elaborate on the criteria that would be used to reject licence applications, observing that this would be a “confidential” decision taken within the DGFT. While the Directorate, which comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, had notified these changes, communications defending the licencing move have come largely from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

A few companies had already applied for import licences, one of the officials said. “This [notification] will give [firms] a signal that the government is keen on having secure devices,” an official said, without elaborating.

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