The Union government will soon notify a transition period for the new norms on imports of IT hardware like laptops, tablets, and servers, according to Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

This is not at all about 'license raj', it is about regulating imports to ensure 'trusted' and verifiable systems and ensuring India's tech ecosystem uses trusted and verified systems only that are imported or domestically manufactured, the Union minister writes in a tweet.

It is the government's objective to ensure trusted hardware and systems, reduce import dependence and increase domestic manufacturing of this category of products, Chandrasekhar says.

This comes at a time when India is becoming one of the world's fastest-growing markets for digital products including laptops, tablets, and servers.

Rapid digitalisation and 'cloudification' of our economy and rapid growth of our digital economy is fueling demand growth, says Chandrasekhar.

On Thursday, the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) issued a notification, making amendments to import policy, curbing the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers, and ultra-small form factor computers and servers. Their import could only be allowed against a "valid license for restricted imports", the notification added.

"Exemption from import license is provided for up to 20 such items per consignment for the purpose of R&D, testing, benchmarking and evaluation, repair and re-export, product development purposes," the DGFT said. Imports will be allowed subject to the condition that the imported goods will be used for the stated purposes only and will not be sold, it added.

The move is aimed at promoting domestic manufacturing, and due to reasons related to national security, such devices can compromise data.

The restriction will not be applicable to imports under baggage rules, the DGFT said. "Exemption from import licensing requirements is provided for the import of 1 laptop, tablet, all-in-one personal computer, including those purchased via e-commerce portals, through post or courier."

Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and HP Inc. are among the companies that have reportedly frozen new imports of laptops and tablets to India, according to a report by Bloomberg.

IT hardware industry lobby, Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT), said the latest notification of the government regarding import curbs comes as a 'surprise' and it's taken without any consultations with the industry stakeholders.

The association sought more time from the government to discuss the issues in detail so that immediate disruption of businesses could be avoided. It has also said the decision could impact consumers as they won't be able to buy imported products and that it'll create a huge shortage, pushing the prices of these products up.

The India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA), another industry body of the mobile & electronics industry, is also expected to meet government representatives to discuss the issue soon.

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