India expects China to facilitate medical supplies exports amid pandemic
Published: Apr 15, 2020 02:52 AM

Workers produce non-invasive ventilators at a medical technology company in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, Jan. 31, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Amid the pandemic spreading, cooperation on medical supplies between China and India is growing, although India expected the growth to be bigger and faster.

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri expected China to speed up India's shipments of essential medical supplies, saying it would be the best signal possible to send for their bilateral relations.

In terms of acquiring antibody rapid testing kits from China, Misri said India has placed orders with a number of companies - some of the orders have been fulfilled, others are in the pipeline for delivery in the coming days and weeks.

Yet some deliveries are currently being held up because of formalities related to the registration that some companies have not completed, he noted.

"We would appreciate facilitation by the Chinese government in expediting the registration of these companies," the ambassador told press on a virtual conference on Tuesday.

"And at this time, I think facilitation of our needs and our requirements in a timely manner, in a smooth manner, on a predictable timeline at prices that are stable and orderly would be the best signal possible to send for the India-China relationship," Misri said.

"Now India asks China to expedite customs checks and producers' registration work, but if they find any low quality products imported from China, they would badger the producers and complain about made-in-China products," Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

He noted that it is reasonable for China to take tough measures on inspecting the medical supplies' quality as "that would give us a clear conscience."

India's current target is to produce and procure a total of 17 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and tens of thousands of ventilators, according to the ambassador, who added that China is one of the biggest producers of these items.

Chinese customs in recent days has required that 11 types of medical supplies ranging from masks to ventilators must be inspected before they can be exported, in an effort to stop selling low quality products overseas.

China's suddenly intensified quality and certification checks at borders have also produced some unintended consequences.

Indian businessman Arjun Bahri Dhawan revealed to the Global Times on Saturday that his stock, a fully loaded plane of masks, PPEs, goggles, infrared thermometers and more expensive medical equipment, was being specially audited by Chinese customs to double check the quality in Shanghai, per an April 10 order by the General Administration of Customs.

His stock also had to wait for a clearance document from the Chinese exporters. The businessman had not responded to the Global Times on whether the products had been shipped as of press time on Tuesday.

Chen Hongyan, Secretary-General of the Medical Appliances Branch of the China Medical Pharmaceutical Material Association, told the Global Times that the inspection for masks normally can be done within a day, while other products can take longer.

During the virtual conference, Misri also mentioned industrial cooperation regarding active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in which both countries remain major world producers, hinting there is great potential to achieve mutual benefits and reciprocity in the future.

He also called on pharmaceutical production lines between India and China to remain open as the two countries export and import APIs to and from each other to sell much-needed medicines to the rest of the world.