Giants including Apple, Samsung Electronics and Hewlett-Packard have frozen new imports of laptops and tablets to India after the South Asian country abruptly banned imports without a permit.

Regulators surprised the world’s largest PC maker on Thursday by making it compulsory to import electronic products ranging from small tablets to all-in-one PCs without a license. Laptop makers had been bracing for government measures aimed at reducing reliance on imports and boosting local production, but the sudden licensing levies caught the industry off guard, people familiar with the matter said. The people familiar with the matter declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. .

Tech companies are now working with New Delhi on how to secure licenses most quickly as consumer interest runs high as India’s Diwali shopping season and back-to-school season approach, people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how long it will take companies such as Apple to obtain licenses, but the suspension has disrupted billions of dollars in the foreign PC trade at a critical time.

Representatives for India’s trade ministry, Apple, Samsung and HP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The requirement creates additional headaches for manufacturers already dealing with a global inventory glut and lacking a trigger to restart sales growth. This could lead to delays in product launches in India and even shortages in a market that still relies heavily on overseas shipments.

The import restrictions are an example of a sudden policy shift in India, and are a further addition to long-standing measures aimed at discouraging the import of foreign electronics. Its purpose is in part to achieve the long-term goal of creating a world-class technology manufacturing industry. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently seeking applications for Rs. A $170 billion financial incentive package will lure makers of laptops, tablets and other hardware to the world’s most populous country as companies seek to diversify their supply chains outside of China.

© 2023 Bloomberg

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