Under the 1994 agreement and subsequent audits, participating members pledged to eliminate tariffs and all other duties and taxes not only on all finished pharmaceuticals, whether sold in bulk or in retail-dosed packaging (paracetamol, antibiotics, vaccines, etc.), but also on more than 7,000 active substances and chemical components used in pharmaceutical supply chains. An indicative list of identified positions is included in JOB/MA/142. Box 4.23. European Commission survey on the pharmaceutical sector and related enforcement measures Structural changes were observed in the general trade in health products between 1995 and 2010. Many countries have become surplus, reflecting the growth and diversity of production capacity, with surpluses geared towards export markets. A number of countries (for example. B Costa Rica, Ireland and Singapore) have prioritised the pharmaceutical and medical sector in national development strategies. Strong growth in health products and strong global demand mean that development strategies focused on the production and trade of health products offer developing countries promising avenues for economic growth and diversification. China became a major exporter and exported $27.8 billion in health products in 2010, 10 times its 1995 exports. Of the net exporter of health products (in all six categories), the United States has become a very large net importer (only the Russian Federation and Japan import more). In contrast, the EU-27 (the 27 EU Member States) exported 3, which were net importers in 1995, more than they did in 2010.
In some countries, domestic imports are very important, although they account for a small share of world trade. Imports of health products account for 5% or more of all imports for 40 countries in the world, reaching 17% in Panama, 14% in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and 12% in Burundi (see Table 4.7). Follow-up studies carried out by the European Commission on the pharmaceutical sector survey (see Box 4.23) have shown that the number of patent comparisons that are problematic under EU cartel and abuse rules has decreased considerably in the years following the publication of the report. The third European Commission report on the control of patent applications in the pharmaceutical sector, published in July 2012, confirmed that, although the total number of comparisons concluded has increased considerably, the share of problematic comparisons for competition has stabilised, compared with 21% in the results of the sector survey. This shows that the Commission`s action has not prevented companies from making comparisons, contrary to the concerns expressed by some stakeholders in this regard. At the same time, monitoring measures may have increased stakeholder awareness of competition issues in general, as the number of problematic comparisons is lower11. Members of the pharmaceutical initiative agreed to regularly update the list of items that could be used to eliminate tariffs when new pharmaceuticals and intermediaries are developed.