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India’s pharma exports grew 18.7% in FY21

At $24.4 billion, best performance and came even as global pharma market growth in 2020 declined

India’s pharmaceutical exports grew 18.70% to $24.44 billion in the financial year ended March 31, 2021.

Best performance thus far, in value terms, it came even as the global pharma market growth declined by 1-2% in 2020. Making it happen was a surge in demand for made in India generics owing to their quality and affordability, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India Director General Ravi Udaya Bhaskar said.

Sharing quick estimates released by the Centre’s Department of Commerce, a Pharmexcil statement said drug formulations and biologicals remain the second largest principal commodity exported by India. In the previous fiscal (2019-20), pharmaceutical exports had increased by 7.57% to $20.58 billion.

“We have observed a big leap in the exports in March to $2.3 billion,” he said. It was the highest in any month during the fiscal and 48.5% more compared to March 2020 exports of $1.54 billion. The year earlier period’s performance was subdued on account on lockdown imposed across the world and the supply chain getting disrupted. The March 2021 numbers are provisional and likely to improve.

Noting that pharma exports were on the upswing for some years now, Mr. Bhaskar said the 18.70% growth is the best in eight financial years.

The growth trend is expected to continue owing to the increased demand for generics and vaccines from the country. “We are expecting a big growth in vaccine exports in coming years. The government’s PLI [production linked incentive] scheme will also help Indian pharma to grow by reducing import dependence, he said. With most of the countries looking at India for pharmaceuticals, the export potential is bound to increase in days ahead,” he added.

Pharmexcil, which is a body under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said exports to all regions were better with growth rates never seen before. North America remains the largest exporting region for Indian pharmaceuticals accounting for a more than 34% share. Country wise, exports to the U.S., Canada and Mexico recorded a growth of 12.6%, 30% and 21.4% respectively.

Exports to Africa increased 13.4% as against the previous fiscal’s growth of 2.24%. South Africa emerged as the second largest exporter of Indian pharmaceuticals. Exports to the country increased 28%, while Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania were the other major markets in Africa.

Growth in the exports to Europe, the third largest exporting region, was around 11%. There is growing demand for Indian pharmaceutical products in non-traditional markets such as Latin America (growth of 14.5%), CIS countries (23.5% growth) and Middle East (17.5%). The growth rates to less unexplored markets such as Australia (21%) UAE (43%), Uzbekistan (125%) and Ukraine (40.6%) were also encouraging, the release said.

Pharmexcil efforts in penetrating the markets in around 40 countries, other than those in North America and Europe, during the pandemic by way of virtual business meetings with the support of Department of Commerce and India Missions abroad yielded positive results, Mr. Bhaskar said.

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