India will provide a transition period of about three months before a new licensing regime for importing laptops, tablets and personal computers comes into force, India’s trade regulator said late on Friday.

It was a partial reversal of Thursday’s surprise decision to immediately implement licensing requirements, which had sparked calls for a delay.

“Before October 31, imported goods could be cleared without a permit, and from November 1, government permits will be required for import clearance,” the government said in a notification.

Earlier in the day, an administration official told Reuters they were reviewing industry requests to delay new import license orders by three to six months.

The government’s notice on Thursday gave no reason for the action, which could affect technology companies such as Apple, Dell and Samsung and potentially boost local manufacturing.

Another administration official told reporters the move was aimed at addressing trade imbalances with China.

Deputy IT and Electronics Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the move was aimed at “ensuring trustworthy hardware and systems” and reducing reliance on imports.

His ministry assured earlier in the day that the government would issue licenses quickly without creating a gap in the market.

New Delhi is said to be issuing licenses to businesses to import laptops and tablets within two days. Licenses are available online.

To apply for a license, companies must provide information on the origin of the goods, the number of pieces and past import history.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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