India has implemented immediate restrictions on the import of laptops, tablets, personal computers, and servers, as announced by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The new amendment will require a licensing requirement for imports, with the primary goal of bolstering local manufacturing efforts in the country. Specific devices falling under HSN 8741 will be subject to this restriction, but individuals carrying these items in their baggage will be exempt.
This move mirrors a similar restriction on smart TV imports implemented several years ago, which proved successful in boosting local manufacturing. In recent years, the Indian government has been offering incentives to businesses to encourage domestic production. Smartphone manufacturers have already been drawn to this initiative, and now chipmakers and semiconductor producers are also showing interest.
In May, the government unveiled a $2 billion scheme aimed at promoting local production of hardware, including laptops, PCs, servers, and related edge computing equipment. This scheme builds upon a previous program with a budget of $892 million. The policy is designed to provide secure digital access to the growing number of digital citizens in the country, and it is expected that trusted industry partners will receive valid licenses, ensuring ease of doing business and unrestricted access to trusted brands for consumers.
Companies like Dell and HP already have manufacturing facilities in India, and the government is looking to further expand local production, hoping to attract Apple and its manufacturing partners to establish a global manufacturing hub in the country. Despite the progress, India still spends billions on importing laptops and other hardware.
Government data shared in December showed that the import value of finished electronic goods in India increased by 32% to $43 billion in 2021–22 compared to over $32 billion in 2019–20. However, the incentives and schemes offered to boost local production have contributed to a drop in the share of imported finished electronic goods (including components) in total imports of electronic goods, decreasing from 69% in 2019–20 to 64% in 2021–22.
Counterpoint, a market research firm based in Hong Kong, estimates that during the first half of 2023, approximately 30–35% of laptops and 30% of tablets shipped to India were manufactured locally. This indicates progress in the country’s efforts to enhance its domestic manufacturing capabilities for electronics.