After initially announcing a broad ban on PC shipments scheduled to take effect on November 1, the Indian government announced today that it will now allow over 110 companies to import laptops, tablets, ultra-small form factor computers, and servers to India with a minimum of restrictions. India's imported electronics are largely manufactured in China and various other countries, and the government's initial ban was intended to only allow trusted hardware and systems into the country, which also would have had the side effect of increasing indigenous production. However, the policy raised the concerns of many, including the US trade chief.
Under the initial terms, companies would need to secure a 'Valid license for Restricted Imports' unless they could set up an assembly plant on short notice. At the time, the only exception was for importing products for R&D purposes and carried a requirement to re-export the device. As a result, Samsung and Apple halted shipments to the country.
Officially, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade cited security reasons for the ban; hence, the impacted products would be deemed 'restricted items' for import. However, this strategy mirrors India's plans for a ban on the smartphone industry, which subtly worked as planned. As a result, companies like Samsung, Apple, Inc., Oppo, Vivo, and others established assembly plants inside the country. Contrary to popular belief, domestic manufacturing didn't necessarily result in better pricing for the locals, but it provided employment opportunities and birth to a business sector.
That success couldn't be replicated with PCs, as the decision came with strong criticism and pushback. Fast forward to the announcement today and India has rolled back its decision and also canceled its licensing system. Instead, the Government of India will regulate shipments through an 'import management system' effective November 1st. The new system allows the companies to get authorization for import by simply giving certain details, such as the quantity of imported units and value.
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