If you're in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or South America, don't be surprised if one of the most sought-after drone brands for civilian applications carries the Made in India label.
The government on Friday liberalized the policy for drone exports and unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs for drones falling under the civilian use category.
The decision by the directorate general of foreign trade DGFT is in line with the emphasis placed in the country's Foreign Trade Policy 2023 on facilitating the export of high-technology items such as drones.
The move will allow the worldwide sale of drones that were previously limited for export under the Special Chemicals Organisms Material Equipments and Technology SCOMET list. The SCOMET list encompasses items that are subject to specific regulations due to their potential dual-use applications in both civil and military uses and are subject to international obligations on non-proliferation.
The license for the export of such items was required for the country's fledgling drone industry, which faced obstacles when it came to exporting drones only meant for civilian use.
The Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia decided to take up the issue with the Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal.
The SCOMET policy for drones has been updated, following the wider consultations with stakeholders. Under the amendment, civilian drones and UAVs with a range equivalent to or less than 25 km and delivering a payload of not more than 25 kg excluding the software and technology of these items have been brought under the General Authorisation for Export of Drones GAED.
Welcoming the move, the president of the apex industry association Drone Federation of India said, One of the key bottlenecks facing drone manufacturers was the requirement for permissions and licenses every time a manufacturer gets an export order. With the easing of the rules, the export of civilian drones will become a lot easier. Shah added that all Indian drone companies working on applications such as basic surveys, tracking and agriculture would now have an opportunity to not only export their products in a hassle-free manner but also collaborate with international companies to deploy their products and services globally.
The drone industry is already seeing a significant growth potential for the products and services, according to drone manufacturers.
We have already bagged close to 7,000 export orders, but we couldn't get them shipped out. We are, therefore, delighted with this very progressive decision taken by the government. This will enable us not only to ship our orders but also fulfill our target of exporting 10,000 drones to 100 countries across the world, said Agnishwar Jayaprakash, founder of Garuda Aerospace, in Chennai.
Garuda, which raised $22 million in funding in a Series A round for its drone startup to date, is planning to export 10,000 drones by the end of the year.
By 2030, India is planning to make its drone sector a $20 billion industry, and has already brought the industry under the production-Linked Incentive PLI scheme. The liberalization of export regulations on drones may encourage innovation and technological advancements in the foreseeable future.
The news comes at a time when the country's oldest and largest drone maker ideaForge Technology will open on June 26.