The government may ask IT hardware importers to provide the documentation necessary to attest that their product is from a trusted source
The move comes after China, the US, South Korea and Taiwan raised concerns at a recent meeting of the World Trade Organisation's Committee on Market Access
These countries claimed that the decision would impact the trade of IT hardware, cause uncertainty for their users and exporters, and be inconsistent with global trade laws
After putting a potential import ban on hold, the government is likely to ask for international certification from IT hardware importers to establish a trusted supply chain for India.
Per an ET report, the government may ask IT hardware importers to provide the documentation necessary to attest that their product is from a trusted source. The decision would likely lead to the Centre allowing a licence-free import of the product.
The certification could be from an international organisation, one of the persons cited in the ET report said. The person added that the organisation could periodically verify that the components used in the hardware come from trusted supply chains and do not have any spyware or malware in them.
The move is likely aimed to placate countries such as China, the US, South Korea and Taiwan, which host some of the largest IT hardware companies in the world. These countries also raised concerns at a recent meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s Committee on Market Access.
These countries claimed that the decision would impact the trade of IT hardware, cause uncertainty for their users and exporters, and be inconsistent with global trade laws.
The US said the measure would prompt its companies to think twice about doing business in India and impact its exports to India. South Korea has raised doubts about the decision’s consistency with WTO rules, while China and Taiwan have asked for the purpose of this policy.
While regulatory clarity before the import management system for IT products kicks in from November is crucial, India would stick to its guns on the decision of IT hardware importers needing an international certification. The Centre wants a trusted supply chain for India’s digital ecosystem, the report added.
The Ministries of Commerce and Industry and Electronics and Information Technology are in the final stages of working on a notification that details how countries could address India’s security concerns.
The IT Hardware Import Saga
The government placed laptops, with immediate effect, tablets, all-in-one PCs, ultra-small factor computers and servers in the restricted imports category on August 3 this year. The move made it mandatory for the importers of these products to obtain a licence.
A day later, following a meeting of industry executives with senior officials from the IT ministry and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), the government extended the deadline until October 31. Sources said some hardware could have security-related issues and compromise sensitive and personal data.
On October 13, the Centre decided to pull back all restrictions on the imports of laptops.
The move is similar to the telecom hardware import restrictions imposed by the Centre two years ago, creating a single-window portal for telecom hardware manufacturers to register their products as ‘trusted’ and freezing out several Chinese telecom makers like Huawei and ZTE.
That decision was also made to safeguard India’s telecom infrastructure against potential spying. In 2020, Huawei was accused by the US of allegedly spying on its citizens via its telecom hardware, something the Chinese telecom infra maker has denied ever since.