US tech titans say a heads-up about India's PC import license would've been nice

Trade org board members petitioning Uncle Sam are who's who of Big Tech

Eight US tech-related trade associations penned a letter last week to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and trade ambassador Katherine Tai to oppose India's new import licensing requirement for PCs and other tech kit.

Specifically, the letter urges Raimondo and Tai to "use every available forum of engagement with the government of India to ensure that its measures in the ICT sector are consistent with India's international trade obligations and commitments, as well as supportive of trade and supply chain links, are consultative and drive digitalization and inclusion."

The requirement was originally planned to go into immediate effect with no prior notice or public consultation, but now will begin on November 1.

Although no explanation for the policy change was given by the Indian government, it is believed to be part of the nation's "Made In India" efforts to drive domestic manufacturing, encouraged by the government's Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.

The authors of the industry letter said the policy violates World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and "could significantly disrupt trade, hamper efforts to more closely integrate India into global supply chains, and harm businesses and consumers in both countries."

The import license could hinder US companies operating in India. For instance, a manufacturer could be unable to export computers to India with pre-loaded software intended for use in their factories and thus unable to source the products needed to run operations.

The concern extends beyond manufacturing to also include datacenters, which were promised a non-specified exemption. The trade orgs called it "crucial" that the government provide clarifications and details on a promised exemption for datacenter services and essential components of capital goods.

The trade associations furthered that the licensing requirement called India's reliability as a trade partner into question and its perceived motives undermined India's interests.

"Policies based on government coercion and trade restriction will never achieve long-term economic competitiveness, which instead requires a commitment to international rules, a sound and predictable regulatory regime, investment in skills and infrastructure, and assurance that businesses – both international and domestic – will be able to conduct trade necessary for modern manufacturing and supply chain practice," said the letter.

Among the letter's signatories are the National Foreign Trade Council, the Consumer Technology Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Technology Trade Regulation Alliance, and the United States Council for International Business.

Collectively their board members claim execs from across Big Tech including CEOs from AMD, GlobalFoundries, Intel, Micron, Qualcomm, and many many more ®

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