NEW DELHI: While mandating “authorisation” for import of laptops, personal computers and tablets, the government on Thursday unveiled a new regime to permit shipments in a “matter of minutes”, through an online mechanism, as it sought to push global giants to manufacture in India and address the threat of cybersecurity.
The new import management system – put in place after these items were kept on the ‘restricted list’ necessitating licensing or approval – has been devised in a way that consumers will not have to contend with low supplies or higher prices, top government officials said, while “tweaking” the import curbs in the wake of massive criticism from industry and international experts.
Barring the ‘denied entity list’, which includes companies that have not complied with export obligations or have been red flagged by DRI, the government has not imposed any limits on the value or quantity of imports and allowed each company to seek shipments from as many as 10 countries with one licence. “None of the companies are currently on the denied entry list,” director general for foreign trade (DGFT) Santosh Sarangi told reporters, adding, 100 applications have been filed so far.
Though there is no move to restrict imports from any country, the decision is expected to impact Chinese imports the most as nearly 60% of the seven products – PCs, laptops, tablets, servers, microcomputers, large or mainframe computers and certain data processing machines – come from the neighbouring country, which is the largest producer of electronic goods.
The import checks, which are expected to throw data for “trusted digital system in this country”, are seen to be part of the wider crackdown on Chinese goods in the wake of intrusion into Ladakh. Post-Covid the government has been pushing for domestic production of select items, including electronics, to reduce dependence on imports.
Following a recommendation by the ministry of IT and electronics on August 3, DGFT announced import checks, but a day later, postponed implementation. At that time officials had cited “security reasons” for the move.
Subsequently, the ministry had sought to distance itself from the move. While MoS at IT ministry Rajeev Chandrasekhar had stated that the Modi government does not believe in licensing, the government has stuck to keeping the items on the ‘restricted list’, while avoiding the use of licensing and instead referring to the checks as authorization. “The intent is not to cause any kind of inconvenience or difficulty, impose any needless restriction on any of the players involved,” electronics and IT secretary S Krishnan said, adding that the goal is to promote more manufacturing of electronic hardware in the country.
As part of the “tweaks”, IT hardware manufactured in SEZs and shipped to the domestic tariff area or the non SEZ area will not require authorisation. Similarly, imports by private companies for government agencies have been exempted. Importers will be allowed to apply for multiple authorisations, which will be valid until September 2024. After next September, the government will study the data, interact with the industry, and then decide on ways to move forward, Krishnan said.
“The idea is to give certainty for next year or so. We are just launching the system, studying it over a fairly extended period based on whatever data that we are able to get (and) based on the kind of interaction we have with stakeholders, further measures will be taken,” he said.

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