China opens market to Indian drugs with reduced tariffs


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Image Credit: PTI

India and China have reached an agreement aimed at reducing tariffs on Indian pharmaceuticals going into the world’s most populous country.

The agreement to reduce tariffs on Indian medicines is intended to increase imports of Indian drugs into China. The cuts are particularly significant in regards to anti-cancer drugs on which tariffs will be removed entirely in an effort to reduce costs for patients.  The decision has come amid widespread Chinese demand for Indian pharmaceuticals, which are often one tenth the cost of western equivalents.

Both India and China have slashed tariffs on a range of items, including agricultural and chemical products, following negotiations surrounding the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) which will see tariffs cut on more than 10,000 taxable items in six different countries.

As expanded upon by foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying: “According to the outcome of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement, we agreed to slash tariffs by 33%… So the slashing of tariffs by the Indian side is also part of this negotiation.”

While approximately 4.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer in China each year, India has placed particular pressure on the nation to open up its market for pharmaceuticals. The decision comes amid an ongoing trade dispute between Donald Trump and Xi Jingping.

However, the cutting of tariffs on pharmaceutical drugs coincides with the release of blockbuster film Dying to Survive which tells the story of a Chinese leukaemia patient who smuggled cheap but unproven cancer medicines from India into China in 2004, to which Hua referred.

Hua added that: “It is believed that expanding and deepening China-India pharmaceutical trade cooperation will further enhance the health and well-being of the two peoples.”

Nevertheless it remains unclear as to whether China has granted licenses to Indian companies to sell cancer medicines in the country of 1.3 billion. 

Louis Goss