Relationship between India and China is witnessing increasing stress in the last few months; be it on account of the Chinese military incursion in the Indian territory or the Doklam issue. In this context, the trade between the two countries is adversely affected. Amidst this, India has now resolved to become self sufficient in the production of medicine. In relation to this, steps are being taken to reduce dependency on China in the production of medicine. Emphasis would now be given to reduce imports from China of necessary machinery and raw materials for the production of drugs here.
It is being considered that due to rising tensions between India and China, the provision of raw materials to the Indian traders may be affected in future. There lurks a danger for the entire drug production industry, if there are shortages in raw materials and machinery. Hence steps are being taken to avoid the danger of this possibility and reduce dependency of the Indian drug industry on China.
The Ministry of Health and the ‘Drug Regulator’ Department in this regard are drawing up a plan. Monitoring the quality of imports from China would also be an integral part of this plan.
At present India imports 70 to 80 percent of its medical requirements, medicines and necessary materials (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients – API), for drug production from China. In case the tensions between the two countries accelerate, and the supply of necessary items stop, then the fear of its serious implications cannot be rejected.
Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor had alerted about this way back in 2014. He had advised india to reduce its dependence on China. A fear was expressed at that time that the rising tensions between the two countries would affect the general health standard in the Country. In response to the indications given by Doval, the Government formed a committee to work out a policy to boost drug production within the Country. In the year 2014-2015, India had imported 2.22 million dollars worth medicines and API from China. Again in the year 2015-2016 imports were to the tune of Rs. 13, 853 crores. Such huge amount of imports from China were already a source of concern then.
In this context, to bring down the imports in various sectors, India levied an increase in the import duty. This measure too did not result in bringing down the imports. However, in the wake of the rising tensions of the past months, efforts are being made to cut down dependence on China.
J N Singh, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), clarified that India has no intentions of putting an embargo on the Indo-Chinese trade. He said that this initiative is an attempt to regularize and ensure good quality standard of imports. He added, that attention is being given to ensure that services for the sick and the production of drugs in the Country are not affected adversely. With this in view, from the next month onwards, all the imports from China, would be tested for adequate quality standards.
It is to be noted that countries like China and other nations exact higher tariffs from the Indian manufacturers. Besides, he has to face stringent norms in these countries. Hence, from now onwards, all the imports from China would similarly confront higher duties and strict quality norms in India, too.