India seeks greater pharmaceuticals market access in Japan

Seeking greater market access for the Indian pharmaceuticals sector in the Japanese market, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the share of India in the Japanese drug market continued to be below par and limited mostly to active pharmaceutical ingredients (or APIs – raw materials for drugs). She said the demand for generic medicines in Japan and India’s capability to meet this demand can prove a win-win for both countries.

“The Japanese pharmaceutical market offers a huge untapped potential for Indian pharmaceuticals industry,” an official statement quoted Ms. Sitharaman as saying. “India’s strength in pharma sector is well established. This, coupled with the decision of Government of Japan towards attaining an 80 per cent share of generic medicines by 2018, should provide an opportunity for the generic drug industry of India,” according to the statement. Indian companies should use the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) much more to boost exports to Japan, she said at a seminar organised by think-tank RIS.

The minister voiced concern over India’s trade deficit with Japan increasing from $3.1 billion before the CEPA was inked in 2011 to $5.2 billion thereafter. She said there was a need to address implementation issues of CEPA. For example, she said, Japan had accorded preferential tariff to fish surimi from India. A negligible amount of an imported cryo-protectant, TSPP, is applied for preservation. Though the value of the TSPP is less than 0.5 per cent of the overall product cost, it is precluded from CEPA benefits as the ‘product is not of Indian origin’, she pointed out.

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