China imported US$5.13bn worth of medical goods in 2004, an increase of 15.35% compared to the previous year, according to recent statistics. This expansion has been driven in part by China's booming economy, which has resulted in an increase in consumer spending power. The reduction of tariffs and the expansion of quotas have also aided growth, especially for hi-tech pharmaceuticals, advanced technologies and raw drug materials, all of which are in short supply. The number of Western medicines approved in the country has grown 42% to 1,031.
Meanwhile, the continuing and painful modernisation of China's drug manufacturing
industry has helped cause a 25.27% increase in exports, which reached US$5.723bn
in 2004. As production standards have grown more sophisticated, local drugmakers
have been able to enter the export market in increasing numbers. Also, China's
entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has resulted in the opening up of
lucrative global markets and greater levels of foreign investment, which is
aiding sector development.