Lucrative prospects for India-UK pharma trade

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries will help to push
trade between India and the United Kingdom up by 60 per cent within
three years, claims a soon-to-be released report.

Lucrative prospects for UK pharmaceutical companies to benefit from research and development (R&D) as well as contract research and manufacturing investments in India were highlighted as part of a study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Yes Bank. More specifically, clinical trials, production of generics, business process and data process outsourcing, and marketing present particular areas of opportunity for UK-Indian business alliances. As a result, trade between India and the UK is tipped in the report to jump from £900m (€1.3bn) to £1.5bn pounds by 2010. The UK is the fourth largest country India's pharmaceutical industry currently exports to with a value of $130m (€97m). Other sectors leading the charge include automotive, infrastructure and financial services. The predictions are also a reflection of India's gradual rise through the ranks of the world's big industry players and Subodh Priolkar, President of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, claimed at the recent Interphex trade show in New York that will eventually usurp its nearest rival China in the battle to become a new "pharmaceutical superpower,"​ although whether this will eventuate obviously remains to be seen. Globally, India is fourth in terms of volume, but 13th in value, but according to Priolkar, India's pharmaceutical industry has the potential to reach $25bn (McKinsey report) by 2010 and a high possibility of generating $60bn by 2020. Currently it reaps in $10bn, with China just ahead on $11bn and Japan streets ahead on $60bn, although all of these countries are dwarfed by the two dominant players, Europe ($169bn) and the US ($263bn). Citing some of the reasons for his claims, Priolkar pointed to the fact that foreign investment has jumped up as of 2000. Increasing R&D and contract manufacturing opportunities are also rife, fuelled by the country's "tremendous progress in infrastructure development; technology base creation; and wide range of production,"​ along with the scientific talent, low-cost and language benefits. Meanwhile, India's exports have experienced 20 per cent growth over last five years, with the US its largest export market, and the "substantial rise in generics"​ - the bread and butter of India's pharma industry - is expected to continue to be the main growth driver, with 39 per cent of all the world's active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for generic drugs also being sourced from the country. The FICCI report, titled: "Strategic knowledge and economic partnerships: India and UK," will be made public on Thursday at the FICCI-International Indian Film Academy Global Business Forum (GBF) in Leeds. Healthcare, pharma and biotechnology, manufacturing, clean energy, sustainable development and the environment are some of the subjects that will be touched on during the forum along with the requirements for British companies and workers doing business in India and vice versa. In particular, the problems of repatriation of social security contributions of Indian professionals working in the UK, a level-playing field for Indian companies in UK government contracts, and reciprocal national treatment to foreign banks under the World Trade Agreement (WTO) stipulations would also be discussed, said a statement by FICCI president Habil Khorakiwala, who will be fronting a 60-member FICCI representation at the forum.

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