India’s imports of laptops, computers and tablets are not likely to drop following the imposition of the import management system from October 1, 2023 as the import authorisations applied for by the industry and issued by the government, for the notified period ending September 30, 2024, indicate that the quantities would be “more or less the same” as in the corresponding period of the previous year, sources have said.

There is no decision yet on what the import rules would be for the seven IT hardware items covered under the import management system after September 30, 2024, when the notification expires, as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is still analysing import data, a source tracking the matter told businessline.

“The government issued import authorisations to all the applicants who applied within the available window for the period up to September 30, 2024. No one was refused. Based on the authorisations we expect imports of the monitored items to be more or less at the same level as the previous year,” the source told businessline.

Imports of the seven IT hardware items on which restrictions were imposed, including laptops, tablets, PCs, ultra small form factor computers and servers, large or mainframe computers and automatic data processing machines, amounted to about $8 billion in 2022-23. A large part of this, about $5 billion, was imported from China, per available data.

`import management system’

Under the new `import management system’ for monitoring shipments of the seven items, adopted on October 1, 2023, importers have to apply to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade for automatic import authorisations.

The system is aimed at ensuring supply chain resilience and addressing national security concerns, per India’s explanation at the WTO where concerns were raised by members including the US. India also intends to keep a check on imports from China in particular.

“Right now we are monitoring the import data. Earlier we had no way of knowing things such as how many traders we had, how many manufacturers we had, who was more focussed on components or who was more focussed on finished goods. This disaggregated data was not available. Whatever is being collected now is being collated by MeitY for further analysis,” the source said. 

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, during her recent visit to India to attend the India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting, said that India must keep the country informed on “implementation plans” for its import management system for computers and tablets going forward.

The window for applying for import authorisations for the indicated period is over and there are no plans of re-opening it as of now as there are no such instructions from the MeitY, the source added.