Apple, Samsung could be hit by India laptop and PC import restrictions


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An illustration of the new Apple store in Mumbai, India
Source: Apple

India imposed restrictions on the imports of personal computers and tablets, citing security reasons and the need to boost domestic manufacturing — in a move that could impact Samsung and Apple hardware sales in one of the world’s largest markets for consumer electronics.

Laptops and tablets are among a handful of electronics that will require a license to be imported into India, according to a government notice published Thursday.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s information technology minister, on Friday laid out a reason for the development, citing his country as one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for digital products.

In a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Chandrasekhar said that the government aims to ensure “trusted” hardware and systems, to reduce dependence on imports and to increase the domestic manufacturing of these products.

In theory, companies from Apple and Samsung to HP will need licenses to import products like laptops and tablets into India.

Apple and Samsung did not respond to a CNBC request for comment. On Thursday, Bloomberg had reported that Apple, Samsung and HP were among the companies freezing imports of restricted products to India, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move comes as New Delhi looks to position itself as a high-tech manufacturing hub for everything from consumer electronics to semiconductors. The government has sought to lure in the world’s biggest technology firms with incentives.

Already, Apple has shifted some manufacturing to India for its latest iPhones. Foxconn, the main assembler of Apple’s iPhones, announced a $600 million investment in India this week as part of a phone manufacturing project and separate semiconductor equipment facility.

Tarun Pathak, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said that the licensing development could lead to price increases for certain products ahead of the Diwali festive season in India in early November.

Pathak said that the Diwali month festive season accounts for one-fifth of the annual sales of these products that have come under the latest restrictions.

“The recent restrictions on imports may lead to short-term price increases and a supply crunch for some key brands relying mostly on imports. Assembling locally or even obtaining licenses for such brands will take time,” Pathak told CNBC.

“With the festive season approaching, there might be some disruptions in offers and discounts as well and those couldn’t be as aggressive as last year due to possible demand and supply mismatches.”

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