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Medicine imports, exports rise as supply-side reform succeeds

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-09 10:00
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Leading Chinese medicine and health products makers are keeping a foothold in developed countries as they foresee sustainable growth momentum in mature markets.

Last year, the total value of medicines and health products exported from China reached $60.7 billion, up 9.44 percent year-on-year, according to a report released this week by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products (CCCMHPIE).

The growth rate was the highest in the past five years, reversing the declining trend in 2016. Of the total, exports of Western medicines reached $35.46 billion, jumping 12.62 percent year-on-year.

"Supply-side reform is showing results, as underdeveloped enterprises are gradually withdrawing from the market and superior companies are standing out, thanks to their high-quality products," said Meng Dongping, deputy director of CCCMHPIE.

In 2017, China exported traditional Chinese medicines valued at $3.64 billion, up 2.07 percent over the previous year. The export of plant extracts reached $2.01 billion, increasing 4.33 percent year-on-year, and the export of Chinese patent medicines reached $250 million, climbing 11.03 percent.

The export of Chinese medical services is also steadily increasing. Currently, there are about 2,000 traditional Chinese medicine clinicians working abroad every year, accounting for 60 percent of the country's total expatriate doctors.

"More than 60 agencies have launched hospitals, healthcare clinics specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, and Chinese medicine research centers in over 20 countries and regions, driven by an increasingly strengthening demand for a healthy and high-quality life," Meng said. The value of medicines and health products imported to China reached $55.88 billion last year, jumping 16.34 percent year-on-year.

Tongrentang, a renowned traditional Chinese medicine pharmaceuticals provider, is accelerating its overseas expansion. By the end of last year, it had 140 outlets in 27 countries, including stores, traditional medicine clinics and healthcare centers. In December, the brand launched its first store in Geneva, Switzerland.

"In the future, we plan to continue strengthening our investments abroad, including setting up traditional Chinese medicine centers in Kazakhstan and Australia," said Du Xin, deputy director of external management at Tongrentang.

"We also plan to establish local factories and plant traditional Chinese medicine materials locally in countries with suitable conditions, forging a renowned Chinese medicines healthcare group that covers the whole supply chain," she said.

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