Seminar on “Export of pharmaceutical sector upon LDC graduation: strategies and way forward”

Pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh meeting 98% of its domestic demand has the potential to become the next RMG in terms of export, speakers told in a seminar on “Export of pharmaceutical sector upon LDC graduation: strategies and way forward” organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) on July 23, 2022. Salman Fazlur Rahman, MP, Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister was present as the chief guest at the seminar and Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister was present as special guest. Dhaka Chamber President Rizwan Rahman chaired the seminar.

Dhaka Chamber President Rizwan Rahman in his opening remarks said that later graduation, Bangladesh will face higher tariff regime ranging from 8%-15% in the export market which may decline export earnings by 14.28% equivalent to USD5.73 billion. Upon economic graduation, our IP exemption benefit will be reduced till 2026 having no import restrictions. The pharmaceutical sector may be affected by loss of IP waiver resulting in decline of generic and patented drugs production and export share. Alongside, private sector is to be equipped and incentivized on IP adoption for business development. He also requested government to consider various policy reforms including development of pharmaceutical R&D facility and export market diversification.

Salman Fazlur Rahman, MP, Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister said that our achievement in the pharmaceutical sector is phenomenal and the secret of this success is the skilled human resource we have. Technological advancement is taking place in this sector so we need more research and development for more advancement, he added. But shifting to producing biological drugs will be a major challenge for us, he told. 16 out of top 20 bestselling medicines in the world are of biological drugs right at this moment. At present 15% APIs are being produced locally but value addition is the most important thing in this sector. We are very much hopeful to enter into the US market and once we can have access to US market, this image will help us as the best marketing tool, he mentioned. He also said that pharmaceutical sector should have the same facilities like the RMG sector enjoys. Later he said that in next four to five years, pharmaceutical sector will be a USD 5-billion dollar industry.

Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister said LDC graduation will be an opportunity for us despite there is some challenges we must have to overcome. Mentioning private sector as the partner of government he said that private sector has already proved their ability to lead the economy. To identify the challenges of this sector, various stakeholders’ consultation meeting can play an important role, he added. Due to Covid-led recent pandemic and ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the world is experiencing a crisis and Bangladesh is of no difference because of our global integration. But this temporary and we have nothing to be worried, he said. In this situation he requested all to take austerity measures from their respective sides so that our economic activities do not get hapmpered.

Professor Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in his keynote paper said that Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical sector meets 97% of the domestic demand worth of about USD 3.5 billion. In FY2022 export of pharma products was USD 188.8 million. Bangladesh’s rank was 67th in the global pharma export market in 2021. But in terms of Active pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), Bangladesh is heavily dependent on import. In FY 2020-21, Bangladesh’s import of API was USD 1050.1 million. Global API market is of USD200 billion. The API Park having the facility of CETP should be operationalized as early as possible, he mentioned. To strengthen this sector before LDC graduation, he suggested for strong research and development base, addressing shortages of skilled human resources, exploring opportunities of setting up joint ventures and encourage contract manufacturing. Bangladesh should take advantage of a compulsory licensing provision of the TRIPS Agreement by bringing in required changes in the patent laws and drug policies

Mr. A. H. M. Shafiquzzaman, Director General, Directorate of National Consumers’ Right Protection, Mr. M Mosaddek Hossain, Managing Director, UniMed UniHealth Pharmaceuticals Limited and Professor A B M Faroque, Director, Biomedical Research Centre, University of Dhaka also spoke on the occasion as panel discussants. They also stressed on faster implementation of API Park, long term policy, value addition, more facilities like RMG sector, negotiation with WTO for extension of TRIPS agreement, updating the laws and looking into ASEAN market.

Published on: 2022-07-23

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