The government of India has announced a new import policy for televisions which is restricting the imports of multiple television types into the country. The new guidelines announced by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is an attempt to boost local manufacturing and assembling of televisions in India. The curbs mean that importers will now need to apply for a license to import certain categories of TVs. This follows the government’s recent decisions to promote Make in India, or Atmanirbhar Bharat, and reduce the reliance on imports from other countries, particularly China.
The DGFT notification says that the import policy of colour television sets is now amended from free to restricted. Mind you, TV importers can still apply for the necessary license to continue importing TVs, as long as they have a valid reason for applying for the license. In India, data suggests that as much as $781 million worth of TVs were imported in 2019-20. Of this, $428 million was from Vietnam and $293 million was from China. A lot of this includes the relatively unknown brands—a simple search for LED TV or TV on Amazon.in will show you some completely unknown brands selling TVs imported from China or Vietnam or other markets—interspersed with well-known brands including Xiaomi’s Mi TV range, Samsung’s LED TVs and more.
You must be wondering how this move may impact your decision to buy a new TV. In a way, it doesn’t change anything for you, in most likelihood. Most of the popular TV brands in India are already manufacturing or assembling TVs in India. Therefore, there will be absolutely no impact on the prices of the TVs they sell in India, or the availability of these TVs. For instance, Xiaomi says more than 85% of the Mi TVs they sell in India are Made in India. Xiaomi’s Mi TVs are priced Rs 12,499 onwards.
In India, the television manufacturing market can be largely segmented into two broad categories—premium TV brands such as Sony, Samsung, Sony and LG, and brands that have their focus on the more affordable price points including the likes of Xiaomi, Vu, TCL, Realme and Nokia. There are brands such as OnePlus which try to play their part in both price segments. The likes of Sony, Samsung, LG and Xiaomi have been making TVs in India for a while now, which make for a large chunk of their inventory.
In January this year, Samsung announced their partnership with Noida based Dixon Technologies to manufacture LED TVs in India, including at their manufacturing facility at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. Dixon Technologies also makes TVs for Panasonic, Xiaomi and Skyworth, to name a few other brands.
Samsung as well as OnePlus announced in June that they intend to rely on Skyworth to manufacture TVs at their Hyderabad facility. OnePlus recently expanded their TV line—up in India, to include the ultra-affordable Y-series TVs which are available in 32-inch and 43-inch screen sizes and prices start at Rs 12,999. OnePlus still imports some TVs from China. Skyworth also manufacturers TVs under the Metz brand, a German TV company it acquired a few years ago.
In fact, it is interesting to note that Samsung had stopped manufacturing TVs in Indian in 2018 after the government then imposed duties on open cell TV panels, and instead imported TVs from Vietnam. That was reversed last year when the government removed all duties on these panels.
This decision however will impact high-end televisions, the more expensive ones that brands still import. But whether there is a restriction on the volume of imports for those TVs when licensing approvals are sought, or whether addition duties are levied, remains unclear.