The Union health ministry has asked the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to convene a meeting with the representatives of pharma industry to elicit their views on the proposed non-tariff measures (NTM) to be drafted in line with those prevailing in the developed countries and also to find out ways to overcome the barriers in pharma markets abroad.

With pharma exporters facing increasing hurdles in many parts of the world due to protectionist NTMs, the government is keen to find out ways to overcome them in consultation with the industry and facilitate better trade for all industry segments. Pharmaceutical products are going to be one of the key components in this exercise as many of the associations have been taking up the issue with the government in the backdrop of huge potential India enjoyed in the arena, sources said.

The DCGI has been asked to gather inputs from the industry and forward them to the health ministry which is part of an inter-ministerial technical committee under the chairmanship of commerce secretary. Health ministry in turn will submit the views on pharma and food regarding the existing NTMs and possible measures which India also could implement to check the flow of goods into the country. The DCGI has been directed to send the comments by January 23. The date for the proposed meeting with the industry is being finalized, sources added.

The government had recently constituted the inter-ministerial committee to look into the NTMs in the developed countries in the wake of representations by the industry bodies in the changed global trade scenario. The inter-ministerial committee comprises officials from the departments of animal husbandry, agriculture, chemicals, pharmaceutical, commerce, industry, heavy industries, food processing, small and medium industries and consumer affairs. The committee would soon tabulate the prevailing NTMs of developed countries and update such a centralised data for future use.

NTMs, the measures other than normal tariffs namely trade related procedures, regulations, standards, licensing systems and even trade defense measures such as anti-dumping duties etc, have been a cause of concern for pharma industry in particular. Some of the countries were resorting to unjustifiable measures erecting these non-tariff barriers, industry sources said.

With the lowering of tariffs across the globe, NTMs have come into prominence with members using these measures to put up entry barriers for goods and services. It is therefore, not surprising that the developed countries with relatively lower tariffs are the more prolific users of NTMs/NTBs especially to keep out developing country exports.