At the joint economic group meeting, chaired by the Trade Ministers of India and China, earlier this year in New Delhi, pharmaceuticals was one of the sectors, in addition to rice and IT, which were highlighted by India as the areas where China could increase its imports in order to address the growing trade deficit which has crossed $60 billion. Indian generic exporters have been finding it difficult to enter the Chinese market as the clearance process can taken up to five years and there are also problems related to commercialisation of a drug.
“In the June meeting, the CFDA showed its willingness to take steps to speed up clearances. It needs to be seen what steps have been taken to achieve that,” the official said. The Commerce Ministry is in touch with the CFDA on the issue, he added.
Because of the non-tariff barriers, Indian companies exported pharmaceuticals worth just $27 million to China in 2017-18, which was less than 2 percent of its total exports of drugs worth $17 billion. On the other hand, India annually imports intermediates and APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) from China worth $2 billion.
China recently exempted 28 anti-cancer drugs from import duties, but India can take advantage only when the regulatory hurdles are removed.
“The pharmaceutical delegation visit to China later in August is to focus on anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics, among others. We certainly hope that changes are made in Chinese regulations so that exports can start soon. The Indian Embassy in Beijing is also keeping tab on the developments,” the official said.