Drug makers urge Commerce Ministry to clear stuck imports

MUMBAI: Indian drug makers have asked the commerce ministry to expedite the clearance of their consignments imported from China, which are stuck at several Indian ports due to extensive checking this week following border tensions.

The commerce ministry has asked the companies to wait for a couple of days, anticipating that the issue might get resolved.

Customs officers at airports and ports, who earlier checked cargo randomly, are now inspecting all consignments, leading to delays, an official from a Hyderabad-based drug company told ET. In a WhatsApp chat group of Indian drug manufacturers, several companies complained about their goods not getting cleared.

The border clash at Galwan Valley spilled over to trade between the two countries, with growing anti-China sentiment and calls to boycott Chinese products. China’s exports to India account for 2.8% of its outbound shipments.

The government maintains there are no formal orders for greater scrutiny of consignments from China. Some industry executives said the mass checking may be because of reports of illegal narcotic products entering India.

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India’s imports of pharmaceutical products from China increased 28% to Rs 1,150 crore in 2019-20 from Rs 947 crore in 2015-16.

This figure excludes other pharma ingredients, chemicals and key starting material, which are classified in various other categories. Total imports are to the tune of $2 billion.

According to a report by a rating company in February, 67.4% of India’s bulk drug and drug intermediate imports come from China.

It’s been a volatile year for Indian pharmaceutical companies so far, first with the Covid-19 outbreak disrupting supplies that resulted in a global shortage of key pharma material and then the border standoff with China.

[Source – Economic Times]


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