Pharma companies await resumption of PIA flights to import raw materialArchive
KARACHI: The pharmaceutical industry, beset by suspension of Pakistan International Airlines flights, sees a tough week ahead if operations did not resume, as it relies on raw material imports from India and some other countries.
Former chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Saeed Allawala said that the industry imports raw material worth $350-400 million per annum mainly from India, Europe and China.
Sources said that the industry as per understanding with suppliers will bring raw material via Dubai by foreign airlines. However, industry says that bringing raw material from India via other routes may slightly push up the cost of production and time duration of trade.
Saeed Allawala said that by including finished medicine import of $150-200 million, cumulative bill comes to around $1 billion per annum as Pakistan imports homeopathic, chemicals and herbal products also. He said that quantities were low but value of raw material was very high. Cancer products (finished) also arrive from India as they are cheaper there as compared to other countries.
He said that PIA has no role in bringing finished products from Europe, US and South America as foreign airlines hold major share in bringing the finished products.
In exports, he said the industry mainly sends items via foreign airlines, rather than PIA.
PPMA’s former chairman Dr Kaiser Waheed said that the industry is routing its import of raw material through Emirates Airline as suppliers are insisting on clearance of the piled up stocks, especially from Mumbai and New Delhi destinations. There is no problem in getting raw material from China which arrives mainly by Thai Airlines.
Pharma industry brings 90 per cent of raw material from India and China whose import bill hovers between $400 and $500 million per annum, he said, adding that the industry had so far not faced any major problem as they usually maintain six weeks raw material inventories. However, as time duration has increased with the change in airline, it may slightly push up cost.
He said the industries have been closed since Friday and the next week will be crucial, in case PIA does not resume operation for a longer period.
Waheed said medicine export did not face any serious blow owing to suspension of PIA flights as the national carrier does not have any big flight operations in destinations, like Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, African countries, Vietnam and Maldives.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed that import of medicinal products in July-December 2015-16 stood at 9,707 tonnes ($451 million) as compared to 12,645 tonnes ($532 million) in the same period of last fiscal year.
In 2014-15, a total of 21,504 tonnes of medicinal products were imported costing $947m as compared to 21,297 tonnes worth $791m in 2013-14.
Export of pharmaceutical products in July-December 2015-16 declined to 5,611 tonnes ($103 million) as compared to 7,933 tonnes ($104m) in the corresponding period of 2014-15.
Total exports in 2014-15 stood at 14,621 tonnes ($208 million) as compared to 15,182 tonnes ($175m) in 2013-14.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2016