Medicines industry tops hi-tech exporters list

New export figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that the Australian medicines industry was the nation’s most valuable hi-tech exporter in 2011.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, exports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products were worth $3.744 billion in 2011 compared with $3.998 billion in 2010. Exports for the car industry in 2011 were $2.539 billion, and for the wine industry $2.034 billion (see chart below).

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the Australian medicines industry’s exports had held up well in the face of a challenging global economy.

“The latest ABS data shows that pharmaceutical exports have remained more or less flat, despite an exceptionally tough global market,” Dr Shaw said.

“These numbers underline the significant contribution Australia’s medicines industry continues to make to the economy.

“The Australian medicines industry has continued to export more goods around the world than any other hi-tech industries. This reaffirms the pharmaceutical sector as one of the unsung heroes of Australian industry. It is a real export success story.

“Australia has an opportunity to build on the hi-tech export capability of its medicines industry if we can get the health, innovation and industry policy settings right.

“As a nation we already export more medicines than cars or wine, but with revamped policy settings and incentives from Government we could build the Australian medicines industry into one of our key innovative export industries for the future.”

Asian countries account for approximately half of pharmaceutical exports from Australia. South Africa, Europe and New Zealand are the other major export markets.

Dr Shaw said export earnings for the Australian medicines industry had grown 1200 per cent since 1990.

“At a time when Australia is debating the future of manufacturing in this country, this data underscores the important economic contribution the Australian medicines industry is already making to the community,” he said.

The Australian medicines industry employs 14,000 people.

NOTE: The export figures can be downloaded from the ABS website: ABS catalogue 5368.0 International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Table 12a. MERCHANDISE EXPORTS, Standard International Trade Classification (1 and 2 digit), FOB Value, Dec 2011


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