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Any quotas on imports will only kick in after 6-9 months

New Delhi: India is loosening its planned restrictions on imports of laptops, tablets and other IT hardware, giving manufacturers such as Apple Inc., HP Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc. more time to prepare for potential curbs.

The South Asian country is doing away with a compulsory licensing requirement for tech importers, and will instead only ask such companies to register under its so-called import management system, people familiar with the policy said. The system will start operating on Nov. 1, they said, asking not to be named as the matter isn't public.

India is seeking to boost local production while trying to ensure sufficient availability of consumer electronics. The federal government last month shocked companies such as Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. as it announced a plan to curb laptop and tablet imports without a suddenly required license. A day later India's trade regulator delayed the move by three months.

As part of the latest plan, all companies bringing everything from tablets and laptops to desktop computers and servers into India will have to register. But unlike under the previously considered licensing regime, where companies were expected to cut back imports immediately, the new rules won't limit inbound shipments for about six to nine months, the people said.

A quota on imports could gradually kick in as companies begin to manufacture laptops, tablets and other hardware locally. The size of each company's quota will depend on its local production, import of IT hardware as well as export of such products from India, the people said.

The planned new rules don't apply to smartphones. India's technology ministry didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The maneuvers are part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's drive to increase local production and create a world-class tech manufacturing industry in India as companies look to diversify supply chains beyond China. India this year introduced a $2.1 billion financial incentive plan to draw computer makers to the world's most populous nation.

Companies including Dell, HP, Lenovo Group Ltd., Foxconn Technology Group and Asustek Computer Inc. have sought the subsidies to make laptops, tablets and other products in India.