Roundup: S.Korea to foster biotech, pharmaceutical as new growth driver

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 22, 2019
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SEOUL, May 22 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that his government will foster the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors as the country's new economic growth driver, aiming to triple the export and the global market share of pharmaceutical products and medical instruments by 2030.

Moon made the remark during his ninth "regional economic tour" to Osong, North Chungcheong province located at the center of the country, which is home to biotech-related research centers and institutions. Moon started the tour since last October to find new growth engines amid the lackluster export.

South Korea's export kept falling for five months through April amid the global economic slump and the downturn in business cycle of the global chip industry.

The Moon government picked non-memory chips, future-generation vehicles and the biohealth industry as its three new growth drivers. Osong is the country's first biotech and pharmaceutical cluster to achieve the initiative.

"The era will come soon when the pharmaceutical and biotech industries lead our economy," said Moon who vowed to treble the export and the global market share of South Korean pharmaceutical products and medical instruments by 2030.

Under the initiative, the biohealth export is required to rise to 50 billion U.S. dollars by 2030 from 14.4 billion dollars as of 2018. The global market share is required to increase from 1.8 percent to 6 percent in the same period.

To achieve the goal, the government planned to expand its research and development (R&D) investment from the current 2.6 trillion won (2.2 billion U.S. dollars) to more than 4 trillion won (3.4 billion U.S. dollars) per year by 2025.

The investment will be made to help develop the next-generation technologies such as targeted therapy for cancers with minimal side effects on patients by utilizing immunocyte, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a separate statement.

The ministry said the main strategy would be to create an innovative ecosystem that covers all phases of technology development, approval, production and market release in developing new drugs.

Under the strategy, the government planned to collect information on the medical history of about 400,000 patients, especially suffering from rare and incurable diseases and cancers, and of some 600,000 people including the family members of the patients by 2029.

The big database will be used for the development of new drugs for the patients.

The government will provide policy loans, tax incentives and the revision of regulations in line with global standards to help foster the biotech and pharmaceutical sector.

The time required to win approval for new drugs would be lowered to about 12 months from the current 18 months as the government planned to increase the number of officials in charge of the approval.

Should the measures be taken as planned, the government expected the sector to create as many as 300,000 jobs.

The biotech and pharmaceutical industry emerged here as a promising business amid the rapidly aging population that would raise demand for healthcare services.

The country became an aged society in 2017 when the percentage of those aged 65 or higher topped 14 percent of its 50 million population.

South Korea's export of new drug technology in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector reached 5.3 trillion won (4.4 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, quadrupling the amount in the previous year.

The export of pharmaceutical products and medical instruments gained 19 percent over the year to 14.4 billion U.S. dollars last year. Enditem

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