Hyderabad: Pharma exports from India may witness a dip in growth due to ongoing lockdown and also export restrictions imposed on certain drugs, a top official of Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), a body under the Ministry of Commerce which earlier estimated that exports may cross USD 22 billion in FY 20 has said. Udaya Bhaskar, director general of Pharmexcil said pharma exports were pegged at USD 19.14 billion during the last fiscal.
He also said the global situation of coronavirus spread became unpredictable with each country imposing certain tailor-made restrictions. He said the exports in March 2019 alone stood at USD 2.1 billion which prompted the exports estimation to be pegged at USD 22 billion for the FY20. The exports were at USD 17.28 billion during 2017- 18.
India restricted exports of Paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine, among some other drugs to other countries in view of their perceived role in Covid-19 treatment. “As far as exports are concerned, since there are several restrictions, we may cross last years figure. Last year we did USD 19.14 billion worth of pharma exports. By February ending this year we achieved USD 18.74 billion. Even if there is a big dip in March, the figure may cross last (fiscal) year’s mark,” the official told ”.
According to him, India started getting some Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) from China though it is still becoming difficult for the bulk drug to reach its destinations. He said as of now there is no difficulty in getting API imports. The exports’ promotion body recently wrote a letter to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) highlighting some of the problems being faced by the exporters with regard to getting the license for Restricted Export Item (Non SCOMET) for the listed products.
The body said member-exporters are having a commitment through Irrevocable Commercial Letter of Credit (ICLC) before the date of imposition of restriction. And there “undue delays in issue of licenses” resulting in huge penalties for delayed supplies, loss of trust andcredibility, demurrages for the shipments lying in ports and ultimately making them in a disadvantageous position of losing their valued importers, it told DGFT.
“We therefore request you (DGFT) to issue the license/NOC for our member exporters on fast track mode to enable them to export the listed products which are of therapeutic use in the symptomatic treatment of COVID-19,” the letter said. The pharmexcil also requested the DGFT to exempt EOU (Export Oriented Units) from getting NOCs to export.
An earlier notification by the DGFT exempted units located in SEZs and under Advance Licensing Scheme from the export restrictions. According to industry sources, Paracetamol, Hydroxychloroquine and other drugs which were put under restriction for exports constitute about USD 600 million per annum in overall pharma exports.
A pharma expert opined the export restriction by India which is regarded as “pharmacy of the world“, on export of some of the drugs is not justified as the whole world is fighting united against coronavirus spread.