Industry expects $1-bn drop in exports amid corona curbs

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Published: April 7, 2020 10:12:11 AM

Pharmaceutical exports from India may see a drop owing to the ongoing lockdown and export restrictions imposed on certain drugs.

India has restricted exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine among other drugs in view of their perceived role in Covid-19 treatment.

Pharmaceutical exports from India may see a drop owing to the ongoing lockdown and export restrictions imposed on certain drugs. While pharma exports were earlier estimated to touch $22 billion, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil) now expects them to end up between $20 billion and $21 billion.

“Due to restrictions on export of some categories of drugs and with the lockdown restricting movement of goods, pharma exports have almost stopped from March 3. Further, the government has banned the export of about 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations in the beginning of March. Hence,we see a fall and expect exports in the range of $20-21 billion depending on the situation,” Pharmexcil director general R Uday Bhaskar said.

India has restricted exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine among other drugs in view of their perceived role in Covid-19 treatment. “As far as exports are concerned, since there are several restrictions, we crossed $19.14 billion in FY19. By February this year, we had achieved $18.74 billion. Even if there is a big drop in March, exports may still cross last fiscal’s mark,” Bhaskar said.

Further, Pharmexcil has requested the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to issue licences/NOCs for exporters on a fast-track mode to enable them to export the listed products which are of therapeutic use in the symptomatic treatment of Covid-19.

Indian pharmaceutical companies supply approximately 40-50% of generic drugs and have high exposure to the US and European markets. Industry insiders say these economies are expected to slow down and that may have a cascading effect on the domestic pharma manufacturers. Besides, the prices of raw materials or APIs have increased due to lower availability from China, the largest source, impacting profitability of the sector. “The recent restrictions on exports of 26 APIs could hurt India’s image as a pharmacy to the world and would impact shipments which were already lined up for export at warehouses and ports,” Pharmexcil said.

“The exporters are not only suffering monetary losses but their credibility in the international market is also at stake. We have asked the government to allow the export of drugs manufactured before the curbs kicked in. Millions worth of drugs are currently at Indian ports or close to being readied for export,” Pharmexcil chairman Dinesh Dua said.

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