In a two-pronged strategy to promote the Make in India initiative and curb dependence of the pharmaceutical industry on Chinese imports, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government is considering setting up of specified pharmaceutical zones.
The zones, aimed at easing manufacturing, and research and development of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), will also help boost exports. They will have an additional advantage of reducing India’s trade deficit with China.
Ironically, while India manufactures over 30% of global generic drugs consumption, more than 80% of APIs required to produce these medicines come from China. In the April-September period of 2015-16, India imported API worth around Rs 6,500 crore from China.
“Now there is an interest to set up specified pharmaceutical zones where API manufacturers will be invited to set up units,” the commerce minister said.
Sitharaman said she will meet environment minister Prakash Javadekar and chemicals minister Anant to sort issues such as delayed environmental clearances, which manufacturers claim are plaguing the sector.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman said the government will not open up those sectors to FDI where it can put jobs of self-employed Indians at peril.
“We are being careful in sectors where people are already self-employed, already there with investments made from their family inheritances, and in sectors where it won’t be the business of the investor to create back-end infrastructure,” she told reporters here.
Although the government has eased norms for FDI in many sectors,”for us to open up and then to put at peril jobs of self-employed individuals will also not be good,” she added. “So we are taking a calibrated position as regards FDI right to that extent.”