News Brief

Amidst US And China Concerns, India To Explain Security Perspective Behind Import Restrictions On Laptops At WTO Meeting

Nayan Dwivedi

Oct 20, 2023, 10:26 AM | Updated 10:26 AM IST

A laptop manufacturing facility in India.
A laptop manufacturing facility in India.

India's recent decision to impose specific terms and conditions on the import of IT hardware, including laptops and personal computers, has garnered attention as a security measure, overriding trade considerations.

As reported by Indian Express, the move was made in response to concerns raised by several nations, including the United States, China, South Korea, and Taiwan during a recent World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting.

Initially, the government proposed a licensing requirement for imports of laptops and personal computers.

However, due to strong industry opposition, the enforcement of this directive was deferred until 31 October.

Consequently, the government has been working on an alternative approach called the 'import management system.' This system will mandate IT hardware companies to register and disclose import-related data, including the countries of origin.

The immediate implementation of a quota system, as previously suggested in the licensing notification, has been postponed, offering relief to the industry.

It is worth noting that the official policy has not been officially released, and the 3 August notification, which postponed the implementation of licensing norms until 31 October, remains in effect.

During the 16 October meeting of the WTO's Committee on Market Access, the United States expressed concerns regarding the trade impact, including US exports to India.

The US also highlighted that the decision is generating uncertainty among exporters and downstream users.

South Korea also raised objections to India's proposed measures, contending that they could contravene WTO rules and lead to unnecessary trade barriers.

A senior government official has emphasised that the concerns raised by these countries will be addressed at the WTO. However, the official underscored that it is premature to object to the policy on laptop imports, as it has not yet been put into practice.

Specific laptop brands had previously raised concerns about data storage methods, prompting India's decision.

The policy regarding laptop imports is set to focus more on monitoring rather than imposing stringent restrictions, according to an official.

The Commerce Secretary has clarified that there are no specific restrictions on laptop imports. Instead, importers will be closely monitored to verify the source of the imports.

Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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