China and India have reached an agreement on the reduction of imports duties on Indian medicines to China including anti-cancer drugs, which are highly expensive in China. However, it’s not clear if the Chinese have agreed to grant licences to Indian companies to sell cancer drug in their huge market.

According to a report of the state-run China Central Television, About 4.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer annually. Indian drugs, especially cancer-curing medicines, are in big demand in China as they are far cheaper as compared to their western counterparts.

“We have seen China and India have reached agreement on the on the reduction of tariffs on medicines. For specifics, I will refer you to relevant competent authorities,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quoted as saying by TOI.

“We believe the expansion of imports and slashing of tariffs on anti-cancer medicines will usher in great opportunities for India and other countries in the region,” Chunying added.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman alluded to a recent popular Chinese movie about a leukaemia patient, who imports and sells less expensive generic anticancer drugs from India for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients in China.

“There is a popular movie ‘Dying to Survive’ about zero tariff imposition on anti-cancer medicines in China,” Hua was quoted as saying by the Business Standard.

She was responding to a question about India’s decision to reduce levies on 3,142 items from the member countries of Asia Pacific Trade Agreement, to which China is a signatory.

As per the report, on being asked about the ongoing trade war with US, Hua was quoted saying as “We have decided to expand our imports as well as opening up. This is what China needs in order to uphold the free trade and work against protectionism. It is also in keeping up with our own pace of development and opening up.”