Pharmaceutical exports from India grew 7.57% to $20.58 billion during 2019-20.
A rather subdued show, considering the 10.72% growth in 2018-19 and the target for FY20 set at $22 billion, this came amid COVID-19 denting the fourth quarter performance, especially that of March. The pandemic impact cast a shadow on the gains made in the previous three quarters.
“As the fourth quarter brought in a negative growth of almost 3%, overall exports growth rate has been brought down to 7.57% from 11.5% which was the growth at the end of the first nine months,” said Udaya Bhaskar, Director General of Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil).
Usually, Indian pharma exports during February and March are quite brisk. “Having seen the the good pace of export trend in first three quarters and price stabilisation in the United States, it was estimated that FY 2020 exports would reach $22 billion mark,” he said, attributing the comparatively lower, single-digit growth to COVID-19.
Elaborating on the impact, he said supplies from China, on which India depends for 60-70% of bulk drug needs, were disrupted with the outbreak of COVID 19. “Our imports of bulk drugs went down significantly in February. Combined with lockdown measures across the countries and export restrictions on some of the products contributed to the situation of downturn in export growth,” he said.
Pharma is one of the few sectors in India that have consistently shown a growth rate, despite economic slowdown.
The exports during 2018-19 totalled $19.13 billion and the growth trajectory continued well into 2019-20 with a growth of 11.21% in Q1; 8.69% in Q2; and 14.64% in Q3.
Exports in January 2020 increased 11.72%. But in February and March, growth rates were 7.7% and minus 23.24% respectively, resulting in a negative growth of 2.97% in Q4.
Drug formulations and biologicals, contributing to almost 72% of exports, have shown 9.5% growth. Export of bulk drugs and drug intermediates, the second largest category, declined 0.73% bringing down the overall performance. Vaccines and surgicals recorded 22% and 10.5% growth, respectively.
Stating this, a release from Pharmexcil said India exported pharmaceuticals to 202 destinations across the world. Exports to North America – the largest market for Indian pharmaceuticals and contributing to 34% of total exports – were 15.11% higher. Exports to the U.S. market grew 15.8% to $6.7 billion, which was nearly one-third of the total exports.
Mr. Bhaskar said a detailed project report that Pharmexcil submitted to the Centre after a study on ‘Strategies to reduce import dependence of APIs, KSMs and intermediates’ provided valuable inputs for the government in framing the schemes for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical KSMs, drug intermediates and APIs in the country.”