Covid ‘positive’: At 24 billion, India’s FY 21 pharma exports soar 18%

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 17, 2021

PLI scheme expected to further boost shipments from India   -  MJ_Prototype

Highest growth in eight years on rising demand for quality and affordable generics

India’s pharmaceutical exports grew at a record 18 per cent to reach $24.44 billion in the year ended March 31, 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was the highest export growth rate in the last eight years for the pharma industry.

“As per the quick estimates shared by the Department of Commerce, drugs and pharmaceutical exports for FY21 (April 2020-March 2021) have touched $24.44 billion with a record growth of 18.07 per cent,” said Ravi Udaya Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, on Saturday. The exports in FY20 totalled $20.58 billion with a growth rate of 7.57 per cent.

Surge in demand

While the global pharma market was down by 1-2 per cent in 2020, there was a big surge in the demand for India-made generics owing to its quality and affordability. Data reveal that drug formulations and biologicals are the second largest principal commodities exported by India.

“We observed a big leap in our exports in March 2021 ($2.3 billion) and is the highest for any month of this financial year. The growth rate for this month was 48.5 per cent as against exports in March 2020 ($1.54 billion),” Bhadkar said.

The growth rate is better this year as exports in March 2020 were hit by the pandemic-induced lockdown across the world, leadingto supply-chain disruptions.

Global reach

“We are expecting big growth in vaccine exports in the coming years,” said Bhadkar. He added that the government’s PLI scheme will also “help the pharma industry to grow by reducing its import dependence and developing the export potential”.

Exports to all regions have been robust. North America is the largest market for Indian pharmaceuticals with more than 34 per cent share. Exports to the US, Canada and Mexico grew 12.6 per cent, 30 per cent and and 21.4 per cent, respectively.

Shipments to Africa have gone up at 13.4 per cent against last year’s growth of 2.24 per cent.

South Africa, being the second largest market, recorded a 28 per cent growth. Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania are the other major African destinations.

While Europe, the third largest market for India, registered 11 per cent growth, there is increasing demand for Indian products in the non-traditional markets of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and West Asia, per data.

Published on April 17, 2021

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