The Indian government has imposed restrictions on the import of computing gear like PCs, laptops on tablets, with immediate effect. Just in case you’re wondering, no, this is not a ban. It just means brands will now be required to obtain a special license for importing goods.

“Import of Laptops, Tablets, All-in-one Personal Computers, and Ultra small form factor Computers, Servers under HSN 8471 is 'Restricted' with immediate effect,” says the notice issued by the Directorate General for Foreign Trade (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India).

Ideally, the government's move shouldn't affect your ability to immediately purchase a computer in the coming days. But it will definitely make life difficult for brands. The restriction is just a way to boost local manufacturing in India, with a bit of arm twisting. Made in India. Rings a bell?

Two laptops on a table
Credit: Pexels

So far, the government has imposed a heavy fee on the import of electronics like phones, and computing machines. As a result, a majority of smartphone companies — including Samsung and Apple - have started to make phones in the country to avoid that heavy import tax.

The Indian government now wants to do the same for laptops. A similar restriction has been in place since 2020 for the import of TVs in the country. Moving ahead, all PC and tablet brands will need to obtain a special license from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to import their products in India.

As for the impact on market, well, you might have to wait just a bit longer for new laptop and tablet models to arrive in India, as obtaining the special license is a time-consuming process.

Additionally, it just might end up jacking up the prices of electronics if the licensing costs are high and brands decide to pass it on to customers with the sticker price instead of absorbing it.

The impact will be huge

Unlike phones, an overwhelming majority of laptops sold in India are imported – from China. In the past five years, every three out of four laptops sold in India have come from factories in China.

"Since 2017, China has accounted for around 75 per cent of India’s laptop imports," says government data seen by The Print. It will take some time for brands to acclimatise themselves to the sudden market shift.

Following is a copy of the notice released by the government earlier today:

Copy of government notice.
Credit: Directorate General of Foreign Trade
Copy of government notice.
Credit: Directorate General of Foreign Trade

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