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India to restrict TV imports

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India‘s surprise move to restrict imports of TVs, announced on Thursday, will boost local manufacturing, strengthening Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India‘ drive, an industry body said.

The Indian trade ministry issued a notice late on Thursday saying it would restrict inbound shipments of TVs by requiring importers to get a special licence.

It gave few details but the regulation is expected to become effective soon, creating barriers for companies such as South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and China’s Xiaomi .

Both companies import some high-end models, although they make the bulk of their TVs for the Indian market locally through contract manufacturers. Japan’s Sony makes 99% of its TVs for the Indian market locally and so is unlikely to be affected.

“We have sufficient manufacturing capacity in India and therefore imports of CBUs (completely built units) are not necessary,” Pankaj Mohindroo, the Chairman of Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) said in a statement on Friday.

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“We are losing precious jobs because of unabated imports,” he said.

Last month, in a similar move, India restricted tyre imports across categories of pneumatics and radials used in buses and motorcyles.

India‘s TV imports were worth $780 million in 2019/20, the ICEA said.

Samsung did not respond to a request for comment, while Xiaomi said 85 per cent of its TVs were locally made and that the Indian government’s push would bolster domestic production.

Modi has called for a self-reliant India and launched his ‘Make in India‘ drive in 2014 to bolster the country’s manufacturing sector and reduce imports of products made overseas.

New Delhi’s relations with manufacturing giant China have in any case deteriorated following a border clash between the two nuclear armed rivals in June which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

Late last month India banned 59, mostly Chinese, mobile apps including Bytedance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat.

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