US moving medical supply chain out of China won’t solve real problems: foreign ministry

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/18 12:23:40

An employee is seen at work in a medical equipment enterprise in Lianyungang in East China's Jiangsu Province on Monday. Lianyungang aims to build its biomedical industrial park into a world-class pharmaceutical and medical hub by speeding up the development of a mature industrial chain. Photo: cnsphoto

 The Trump administration's attempt to encourage local pharmaceutical manufacturing and move the supply chain out of China is the "wrong medicine"for the current coronavirus crisis, according to a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that the only way to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is global unity, and recent talk from the Trump administration about shifting the global pharmaceutical supply chain is not only futile in solving any real problems, it will also harm ordinary US citizens.

The remarks came after a recent effort by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to tighten what is dubbed as "Buy American" to ask US federal agencies to buy pharmaceuticals made in the US.

China is the world's largest maker of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), contributing around 60 percent of total global supplies. In 2019, the total exports of APIs reached 10.11million tons, increasing 8.83 percent from the previous year.

The US has long been heavily reliant on APIs sourced from China. As of 2019, 13 percent of the API manufacturing sites for the US are located in China, double the proportion from 2010, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Common anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen come mostly from China.

But moving the supply chain out of China will be no easy task in the short run. China has a long and mature supply chain and a set of cheap and skilled labor force that will be hard to replicate in the US, Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, said.

An API manufacturing company in China told the Global Times that even though the suspension of work in the factory has already delayed the delivery of international orders, some of which are from the US, none of its US clients have cancelled the orders yet because of the lack of alternatives.

"It is next to impossible for clients to find another source, because building up a new supply chain will take a long time," a sales manager surnamed Cheng from Wuhan Shiji Pharmaceutical said.

Price is another factor that's been pushing US customers away from US-produced drugs. According to a report by, the drug prices in the US remain over 10 percent increase every year, and in January, six major pharmaceutical producers announced price increase of more than 250 drugs in the US.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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