Egypt Pharma Update: Trade Deficit Plummets; Big UAE Investments; Vaccine Manufacturing Developments

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As of today, the Evergreen boat that blocked global shipping when it got stuck in the Suez Canal has still not been allowed to leave Egypt. The infamous episode illustrated the complex situation that has affected global economies during the pandemic. But, for Egypt, the liberation of the canal symbolized an upward trend: the Egyptian economic expansion is expected to stabilize to around 4.5 percent between 2021 and 2022.

 

The country aims to vaccinate half of its population by the end of this year, seeking to immunize half a million people every day. The expectation is that the inoculation campaign will help restart the Egyptian economy and bring back some of the more than 2.6 million jobs lost during the pandemic.

 

The good news has begun to arrive after it was reported that the trade deficit declined 25 percent year-to-year in March thanks to an increase in the value of exports, particularly from medicines and pharmaceutical preparations which increased by 54 percent.

 

Egypt’s healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors have grown considerably in recent years and have witnessed reforms to healthcare insurance aimed at strengthening provision. Since the market plummeted between 2016 and 2017 it has been on an upward trajectory getting to USD 2.6 billion in 2020 and expected to reach almost USD 3 billion by 2022, according to a Fitch Solutions forecast.

 

One week after the Evergreen ship incident, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated the much-anticipated Gypto Pharma City. The “city” spans over 180 thousand square meters and hosts manufacturing plants for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. According to the Egyptian government, through Gypto Pharma City, Egypt aims at bolstering cooperation between the government and the private sector to turn itself into a regional hub for the manufacture of medicines in the Middle East.

 

One of the main reasons behind the project, according to the president, is not only bringing investment but securing supply of medicines and reducing pharma imports, an aspect highlighted by the pandemic. “Sometimes it’s not just about making profit but about securing needs,” stated al-Sisi.

 

The day before the Pharma City inauguration, Canadian Bausch Health announced that it would sell all its stake in Egypt’s Amoun Pharma to Abu Dhabi-based ADQ for USD 740 million., Amoun ranks fourth among the country’s pharmaceutical producers, behind the local affiliates of Novartis, Sanofi and GSK. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, ADQ is part of a USD 20 billion Egypt investment initiative by the UAE in one of its main regional allies, launched in November 2019.

 

Getting to more recent developments, the Egyptian Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, said that the country looks forward to obtaining approval for a manufacturing plant in order to produce the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. The news follow another COVID-related manufacturing development, the agreement signed last month by Egypt’s Eva Pharma to provide India with 300 thousand doses of Gilead’s remdesivir.

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