India’s Import Restriction On PCs, Laptops Set To Impact Apple, HP And Other Major Players

Union government announced restriction on import of laptops, personal computers and tablets. The move is expected to impact the supply chain of Apple, HP and other major players of the Indian market

Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced restrictions on import of laptops, personal computers (PCs), tablets and servers on Thursday. According to the notification, the new rules would require firms to apply for licence to import finished units of the listed products. 

Reacting to the new policy, Bloomberg reported that HP, Apple and Samsung have already imposed a freeze on the imports of laptops and tablets in the country. According to available data of India’s PC market, HP is the biggest player in terms of market share. 

The government has been trying to cut reliance on imports of the listed products and move towards domestic manufacturing. Union Cabinet had approved the production-linked incentive 2.0 scheme for IT hardware in May this year. In its announcement, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said that the scheme will extend an incentive of around 5 per cent on net incremental sales on domestically manufactured units of laptops, tablets, PCs and servers. 

Counterpoint Research data suggests that around 65 per cent of PCs/laptops are imported in the country. China accounts for around 70 to 80 per cent of these imports. India’s electronic imports also surged by 6.25 per cent in the first quarter of FY24 to $19.7 billion. The latest decision is expected to significantly impact India’s market as the government looks to revamp the supply chain of these products.

What Will Be The Impact On India’s PC, Laptop and Tablets Market?

According to International Data Corporation’s study for Jan-March quarter data, the top five players in the country’s PC market are HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and Asus. HP leads the pack with around 33 per cent market share, followed by Lenovo at 15.7 per cent. 

Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, said that the industry might face hiccups in the short-term due to the decision. “The industry comprises around 12 million units, and this restriction may lead to some short-term supply disruptions, especially for brands like Apple, HP, and Lenovo. Moreover, with the festive season approaching, a significant period for sales, the industry may face challenges in meeting demand.”

CyberMedia Research data suggests that Samsung and Apple are two of the biggest players in India’s tablet market. According to its report, Samsung had 29 per cent market share while Apple had 23 per cent market share in the first three months of 2023. 

Earlier this year, Apple had reportedly started talks with suppliers in Thailand to manufacture Macbooks. While the company has been willing to rely on India for iPhone production, it has not shown interest in shifting its manufacturing units for MacBooks and iPads to India. It remains to be seen what the company will do in view of the new restrictions. 

Commenting on the rationale behind government’s move, Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman of India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), said, “This policy announcement seems to be based on the premise of providing secure digital access to the burgeoning number of digital citizens in the country.  We are confident that valid licenses will be provided to trusted industry partners which will enable Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and unrestricted access to trusted brands for digital consumers.”

In its notification, the government also provided the details of exemptions available under the new import regime. As per the rules, the restriction won’t apply to imports under baggage rules which means that people coming from outside India can bring foreign-bought laptops/PCs. The rules would also not apply on the purchase of one tablet, PC or laptop through e-commerce portals. 

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