Pharmaceuticals import/export guide for Australia
If you’ve considered launching a pharma import/export business out of Australia, here’s where to start.
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Australia’s pharmaceutical market is estimated to be worth $8.9 billion. You can grab a slice of the pie by starting your own trading company. From controlled substances to medical compounds, you can build a thriving pharmaceuticals business that facilitates trade around the world.
Types of import/export businesses
Import/export businesses fall into three main types. What’s best for you comes down to where your interests lie.
Export management company
An export management company (EMC) helps a company in Australia export its medicines and pharmaceuticals. It manages tasks such as hiring distributors, developing marketing materials and preparing shipping logistics.
Export trading company
An export trading company (ETC) looks into the needs of foreign buyers and finds domestic companies in Australia to meet those needs.
Import/export merchant (or free agent)
This involves buying the merchandise directly from the manufacturer – overseas or local – and then reselling it abroad. It involves a bigger risk, but it can lead to higher profits without the middleman that the other business types involve.
Types of pharmaceuticals
To meet the needs of your target customers, you need to choose the pharmaceuticals that you’ll offer. Choose something that you have the most experience with. For instance, do you have a science background with knowledge of medical compounds? Have you worked with controlled substances in a hospital setting? Do you know about a specific sector of the medical industry?
Existing experience with your target area is a plus, but having a passion for it widens your advantage. You’ll understand the jargon of your niche and you may already have contacts.
The pharmaceuticals market
- Controlled medicines and substances.
- Medicinals, botanicals, and dietary supplements.
- Pharmaceutical preparations.
- In vitro diagnostics.
- Veterinary drugs.
Top import/export countries for pharmaceuticals
- China: $817 million
- New Zealand: $143 million
- United States: $135 million
- Japan: $98 million
- Turkey: $61.2 million
- Ireland: $1.03 billion
- Germany: $785 million
- United States: $605 million
- Switzerland: $551 million
- United Kingdom: $340 million
Source: The Observatory of Economic Complexity, 2016 data.
Do I need a licence or permit to import/export pharmaceutical goods?
A majority of pharmaceuticals will need either a licence, permit or both to be imported or exported in Australia. To find out what requires permission to import and export, visit the Office of Drug Control’s website (ODC). This index can also tell you what you’ll need in the way of permits and licences. Let’s look at a few examples.
|Name||What application will I need?||Import permit needed?||Import licence needed?||Export licence and permit needed?|
This info is sourced from the ODC’s website on 6 November 2018.
International billing and payments
Your new business will require you to make and receive international payments, which means you’ll make transactions between currencies and across borders.
You can safely and affordably manage your business payments – with lower fees and stronger exchange rates – by comparing the services of a money transfer specialist.
Compare international money transfer options for importing and exporting pharmaceuticals
The "Rate" and "Amount Received" displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.
Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention "Finder" before you commit to a brand.
The pharmaceuticals import/export business is for people who love building relationships in other countries, and success requires an organised mind that can handle logistics. When dealing with medicines and similar goods, a willingness to thoroughly comply with relevant regulations is a must.
If you have these qualities, take the plunge into creating a thriving pharmaceuticals import/export business.
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