Traditional Chinese medicine firms may face delisting in EU market

14:42, April 07, 2011      

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As of March 31 of this year, no Chinese enterprise dealing with traditional Chinese medicine completed the registration regulated by an E.U. Process Order, and traditional Chinese medicine may face the risk of delisting in the E.U. market.

The annual turnover of herbal medicine in the European Union, the world's largest herbal medicine market, stood at more than 10 billion euros, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world's total turnover, and traditional Chinese medicine, one of the quintessential features of Chinese culture, has maintained good development momentum, according to the Voice of China-News Radio.

The European Union released the "Registration Process Order of Traditional Herbal Medicine" in March 2004 and required enterprises that want to remain in the E.U. market to meet registration standards by March 31, 2011. This order has set a "seven-year limit" for herbal medicine that was imported in the name of food, health care products and even agricultural and sideline native products.

Unfortunately, no Chinese enterprise has completed the registration before the deadline. This also indicates that after missing the seven-year transitional period, traditional Chinese medicine may face the risk of delisting in the E.U. market.

Why did domestic traditional Chinese medicine producers give up the opportunity to apply for the access to the European market? Guo Guiqin, deputy general manager of China Beijing Tongrentang Group Company, said that the main reason is that the registration application fees, particularly the intermediary fees, are too high to afford.

Furthermore, an application standard stipulates that related herbal drug products must already be in medicinal use in the European Union for a period of 15 years preceding the date of the application.

Although traditional Chinese medicine products entered into the E.U. market as early as 1995, domestic traditional Chinese medicine producers regrettably lacked the sense of self-protection and neglected to keep product sales records. Even domestic time-honored producers such as Tongrentang cannot provide evidence to prove that their products have been available on the markets of E.U. members for 15 years.

Although traditional Chinese medicine is very popular in Southeast Asia, traditional Chinese medicine products have often been locked outside of other overseas markets, such as the European Union. It is still possible for traditional Chinese medicine producers to export products to the European Union in the future.

In the long run, however, China's traditional Chinese medicine industry must follow international practice in terms of product production, processing and distribution to really expand the international market.

Can domestic traditional Chinese medicine producers cross the threshold set by the European Union before the end of the next seven-year period? This will unlikely be achieved without the collective efforts made by domestic enterprises and related departments.

By People's Daily Online

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