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China initiates easier import of Indian anti-cancer drugs

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 Sonali Thakur
China has said it has initiated specific measures for the import of Indian pharmaceuticals, especially anti-cancer drugs, to provide them “greater access” to the Chinese market, days after a Chinese movie on a leukemia patient highlighted the need for paving the way for import of cheap Indian medicines.

However, it is yet not clear whether China has agreed to allow licenses to Indian companies to sell cancer medicines in the vast market in China.

About 4.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer annually in China, according to a report of the state-run China Central Television.

Indian drugs, especially cancer-curing medicines, are in big demand in China as they are far cheaper than their western counterparts.

Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, told the media: “We have seen China and India have reached agreement on the reduction of tariffs on medicines. For specifics, I will refer you to relevant competent authorities”.

“We believe the expansion of imports and slashing of tariffs on anti-cancer medicines will also usher in great opportunities for India and other countries in the region,” she added without providing any further detail.

She said, "The pharmaceutical trade between China and India is growing continuously, and the two sides have maintained sound communication on promoting the entry of Indian pharmaceuticals into the Chinese market and carrying out dialogue and exchanges and cooperation on the pharmaceutical industry between China and India".

"The relevant departments have formulated specific measures on promoting China-India pharmaceutical trade cooperation and granting greater access to drugs from India", she said.

"It is believed that expanding and deepening China-India pharmaceutical trade cooperation will further enhance the health and well-being of the two peoples," she said.

The six member states of the agreement - China, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Laos - will cut tariffs on a total of 10,312 taxable items, she said.

Earlier in May, China had lifted tariffs on the import of cancer drugs. It was not clear whether Hua was referring to that announcement.

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