Bangladesh will recognize its booming pharmaceutical industry as the ‘product of the year’ for 2018 to help it achieve its full potential.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally make the announcement on January 1 when inaugurating the month-long Dhaka International Trade Fair.
The industry currently meets 98% of the local demand and exports medicines and raw materials to over 150 countries.
This year, leather, footwear and leather products enjoyed various facilities as product of the year.
Officials at Export Promotion Bureau have confirmed the Dhaka Tribune that the government has already approved a summary on making pharmaceuticals the product of the year for 2018.
A senior Export Promotion Bureau official told the Dhaka Tribune that the pharmaceuticals sector had huge potential among the exportable goods.
Stakeholders say the demand for Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products is growing around the world. They say the government’s support can help boost export in coming days.
As a Least Developed Country, Bangladesh can manufacture generic drugs with an exemption from obligations to implement patents and data protection for pharmaceutical products until 2033.
Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical output has grown by a thousand times to $2 billion since 1982 – or around 1% of GDP – making it one of the largest white collar employers in the country, according to Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI).
The industry is the second highest contributor to the national exchequer with a total of 257 registered pharmaceuticals companies.
“We have the potential to earn billions of dollars through exports but the sector needs fiscal benefits and policy support to do so,” BAPI Secretary General SM Shafiuzzaman said.
“Declaring it the ‘Product of the Year’ is not enough. The government needs to support it more to utilize its full potential,” he added.
He has sought support of the Export Promotion Bureau and the Commerce Ministry to utilize business opportunities in countries where there are demands for imported medicines.
The industry is now exporting pharma products and raw materials to 151 countries and the number can rise further if the embassy officials, i.e. ambassador, economic minister, or councilors of different countries can help connect the Bangladeshi businesses with the businesses of those countries, he added.
“We need people in those countries with knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry so that they can arrange single country fair in those countries to help Bangladeshi businesses showcase their products, which may help create new markets,” Shafiuzzaman, also the managing director of Hudson Pharmaceuticals, added.
According to EPB, Bangladesh earned $43 million from exporting pharmaceutical goods in the first five month of the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Square, Incepta, Beximco, Eskayef, Opsonin, ACI, Acme, and Drug International are among Bangladesh’s top pharmaceutical companies.