China says price hike in anti-COVID medical supplies to India due to import of raw materials

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Beijing, May 14 (PTI) China on Friday said the prices of some of the COVID-19 medical supplies like oxygen concentrators being procured by Indian companies from Chinese manufacturers have gone up as they had to import raw materials from Europe to meet the excess demand from India.

Responding to a question from the official media here on India's Consul General in Hong Kong Priyanka Chauhan's recent remarks calling on China to stop surging prices of medical supplies to India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that China has been encouraging its companies to meet India's procurement to meet the country's surge in coronavirus cases.

Soaring prices of medical supplies like oxygen concentrators and disruption of cargo flights to India are slowing arrivals of medical goods, Chauhan said this week.

On price increases, especially of the oxygen concentrators, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that the feedback from the Chinese manufacturers suggests that they had to import raw materials to meet the excess demand from India.

“As for the price issue you mentioned, it is a market factor determined by supply and demand. … Taking oxygen concentrators as an example, one reason is that the increase in demand affected global supply chains. Besides, due to shortage of raw materials which need to be imported from Europe, production capacity is affected,” Hua said in updated comments on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.

“What's more, Indian buyers usually make the same demand through various channels and sometimes buy products through different channels. This has overly inflated demand, which has to some extent affected market order and pushed up prices.

'In early 2020, when China was at the most difficult time of response, we have the same problems. Therefore, we hope all sides can work together to ensure that supply chains are kept open and stable,” she said.

About Chauhan’s call to increase the cargo flights, Hua said, “we agree with the remarks by the Indian Consul General in Hong Kong that supply chains should remain open and stable”.

“We hope all parties can take concrete actions to ensure that the global industrial and supply chains are stable and open. No one should intentionally disrupt and undermine the openness and stability of the global supply chains out of political agenda”, she said.

The cargo flight disruptions were amplified by the decision by Sichuan Airlines to suspend all its 11 cargo flights for 15 days from April 26, citing the coronavirus the situation in India.

Though the state-run airline said it is reviewing its plans to restore the flights, it is yet to do so.

According to freight forwarders in Shanghai, Sichuan Airlines has announced plans to restore three of its freight flights from Chongqing and Xian to Delhi from May 17.

“We are following reports on the situation in India and sympathise with the sufferings of the Indian people. China was one of the first countries to offer support and assistance to India”, Hua said.

“Since the outbreak of the new wave of the epidemic in India, the Chinese government has been encouraging and guiding Chinese enterprises to work in a cooperative manner to facilitate India's purchase of all kinds of anti-epidemic supplies,” she said.

“Many Chinese companies and civil institutions are taking actions and providing various kinds of assistance to the Indian side in their own ways”, she said.

Giving details of the materials procured by India recently, she said In April, China exported to India over 26,000 ventilators and oxygen concentrators, over 15,000 patient monitors and nearly 3,800 tonnes of medicinal materials and medicines.

Chinese companies have received Indian orders for over 70,000 oxygen concentrators and are working around the clock to deliver them as soon as possible, she said.

In addition, India has a strong demand for vaccines raw materials including auxiliary materials, she said.

Since the beginning of this year, Chinese companies have provided more than 10 tonnes of such materials to India with more than 20 tonnes expected to be delivered soon, the spokesperson added. PTI KJV RUP AKJ AKJ

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