Trade War: Pakistan allows import of healthcare products from India

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Asma Ghani

ISLAMABAD- Pakistan has allowed the import of healthcare products from India amid calls from pharmaceutical companies to relax rules for the sector fearing a crisis of life saving drugs.

Pakistan had cut off diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade with India in retaliation after the revocation of special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

Through a notification on August 9, the Ministry of Commerce, Textile and Industry had suspended trade with India and reportedly imported goods and raw material already arrived in Pakistan were diverted and not allowed to be offloaded at port.

Fearing a crisis of drugs, the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and pharmaceutical companies had appealed to the government to exempt from the ban Indian goods that had already arrived in Pakistan before the issuance of the notification. It also had demanded that rules for import of medicines and raw material should be relaxed until alternative source for the import was arranged.

The representatives of local and multinational pharmaceutical companies also had a meeting with Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile and Industry. Consequently, the ministry on Monday issued another notification allowing the import of not only essential medicines, vaccines and raw material but all healthcare products regulated by the drug regulator of Pakistan.

It will also include herbal and homeopathy medicines, medical devices and nutraceutical etc. as the notification uses the word ‘therapeutic products’ instead of essential drugs.

Earlier, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) in meeting with the pharma industry stakeholders had decided to consider other sources/countries for the import of raw material and drugs instead of relying on India and in this regard the regulator had also issued a list of alternate sources.

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