Drone imports have been prohibited in India, thereby blocking an expanding market for China’s SZ DJI Technology Co., the global highest drone-maker, while encouraging a nascent local sector to speed up production.
Import of some drone components will be permitted without prior clearance, according to an order issued late Wednesday by India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Drones used for research and innovation, military, and security will be exempt from the prohibition, according to the administration.
As the pandemic and global trade tensions increase the need to diversify supply chains and avoid risk, India is one of the numerous nations across the world looking for alternatives to China for products and components. India and China have been at odds for a long time over their disputed Himalayan boundary.
Drones have taken centre stage as fears arise that Shenzhen-based DJI may be passing sensitive data to Chinese intelligence agencies on everything from essential infrastructures such as bridges and dams to personal information such as heart rates and facial recognition.
Last year, India loosened laws on the use of drones to make it simpler to obtain permits and to enable greater payloads, possibly allowing the devices to be used as crewless flying taxis. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $20 billion strategy to entice the world’s largest businesses to manufacture and export their products in India, India would pay 1.2 billion rupees ($16 million) in incentives to drone producers.
The epidemic has accelerated the trend toward automated delivery of meals, groceries, medical supplies, and other necessities, bolstering the drone business. Contactless technologies have been praised by autonomous car businesses, delivery startups, and drone operators alike.