DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) Director Senen Perlada encouraged Indian pharmaceutical companies to make the Philippines (PH) their manufacturing hub, as the country is an ideal gateway to Southeast Asia.

“Maybe India’s hesitation is the scale. But think of the ASEAN market, not just the Philippine market. Our country will be a good, if not the best, hub to manufacture. We have a lot of natural ingredients that have found their way to pharmaceuticals like moringa/malunggay, yellow ginger, virgin coconut oil, and others,” said Director Perlada.

Director Perlada was a panelist in the webinar “Exploring Business Opportunities between India and the Philippines Part 1: Opportunities in the Pharmaceutical Industry” on 6 August organized by World Trade Centers in Metro Manila and Mumbai. The next webinar on 20 August 2020 will be about the IT-BPM sector.

The panel includes Philippine Ambassador Ramon Bagatsing Jr., Indian Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran, and Philippine Board of Investments Director Eries Cagatan.

India is the PH’s 17th export market in 2019, with US$545.45 million total exports or 0.77% of the total value. On the other hand, India is the country’s 13th import partner with US$1.83 billion or 1.64% of total imports.

Top PH exports are electronics, minerals, and industrial scraps. While top imports from India include transport materials, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals—comprising 13% of imports.

Director Cagatan shared the state of the local pharmaceutical industry and its growth potential. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are 46 manufacturers, 650 importers, and 4800 distributors serving the USD4.5 billion local market. IHS Markit projected that PH pharmaceutical sales will grow by 7.18% in 2022-2028, above the regional projected growth rate of 6.39% for the Asia-Pacific.

Ambassador Bagatsing said that the way forward is to reinvigorate the Philippine India Joint Working Group in Trade and Investments between the Department of Trade and Industry and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry that last met in 2016. He also suggested a Memorandum of Understanding on the protection of investments or a bilateral investment treaty.

Lastly, he advised concluding the cooperation in medical products regulation between the FDA and India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to make it easier for Indian pharmaceuticals to locate to PH.

Referencing a phone call between President Rodrigo Duterte and Indian President Narendra Modi, the PH Ambassador said “India is willing to extend all possible cooperation to the Philippines, including the vaccine that everybody is praying for, that India is developing.” Two companies are supplying 90% of the possible Covid-19 treatment drug remdesivir in the Philippines and two other companies would like to provide these medicines. Ambassador Bagatsing said that he expects India to allocate these medicines and the vaccine to PH as part of its Act East policy. He added that a strong government-to-government and government-to-business collaboration is the key to achieve this goal. ♦

Date of Release: 7 August 2020