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Laptop and Tablet imports from China surged 47% to $273.6 million in March

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NEW DELHI : Five months after India started monitoring imports of major electronic hardware products, inbound shipments of personal computers (PCs), including laptops and tablets, from China surged by 47.1 per cent to $273.6 million in March.

The month also saw a decline in the import of personal computers from Singapore by 63.9 per cent to $12.2 million, while inbound shipments from other marginal players, such as Hong Kong ($33.65 million) and Taiwan ($8.21 million), during the month rose 39.1 per cent and 61.3 per cent, respectively.

In November, when the government’s online monitoring system for the import of electronic hardware items became operational, imports from China contracted by 14 per cent, while the overall decline was 17.2 per cent. China’s share in total shipments of these items to India stood at 81.6 per cent in March. It was 77.7 per cent for FY24. 

On August 3 last year, the central government announced plans to categorise products in the information technology hardware segment, such as laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers, ultra-small form factor computers, and servers, under the “restricted” label.

This announcement led to a surge in the import of laptops and tablets in September (by 41.8 per cent) and October (by 29.7 per cent), amid fears of licensing requirements. However, after the industry expressed serious concerns over the decision — which was originally aimed at reducing import dependence on China and ensuring a trusted supply chain — the government deferred the implementation until November 1. 

In a further step-down, the government announced it would not restrict the import of such electronic products from any territory, while also introducing a new contactless import authorisation system.

With the import monitoring system now in place, the government is able to collect data about specific products coming in from different sources. 

India’s key trading partners have expressed concerns over the online monitoring system at the World Trade Organization. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised the issue in January during the India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF), which she co-chaired with Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal. Tai commended India for implementing the import management system in a facilitative manner that has so far minimised the impact on trade, and urged India to ensure that the end-to-end online system currently in operation and related policies do not restrict trade going forward.

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