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[Interview with foreign envoys] ‘Medical investment in Pakistan full of opportunities’Diplomatic chiefs talk about Korean healthcare industry and bilateral cooperation ④
Adnan Iqbal, Pakistan’s Commercial Counsellor
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2018.05.01 07:47
  • Updated 2018.05.01 07:47
  • comments 0

Korea’s medical and pharmaceutical industries have reached a global level over the past years. Such an exponential growth has made the country one of the major players in the world. Against this backdrop, Korea Biomedical Review has decided to hear opinions from foreign mission chiefs here on how they view the country is doing concerning healthcare system, research & development, and international cooperation. Through this series, this paper plans to gather foreigners’ opinions on Korea’s biomedical sector and pharmaceutical industry, listening to their suggestions and advice. -- Ed.

Pakistan has been a long partner in Korea’s medical field since Korea and Pakistan started their diplomatic relationship 35 years ago.

In recent times, the country has supplied Korea with many of its top-notch and affordable medical devices such as medical scissors, knives, and forceps.

According to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Pakistan exported $174.4 million worth of surgical equipment from July 2015 to June 2016. The country’s strong export sales in surgical devices come in stark contrast to Korea’s medical device exports. During that same period, Korea exported $1.47 million worth of surgical goods.

In Korea, many local physicians favor medical devices from Pakistan as they are more affordable and have similar qualities with other operational devices produced in advanced Western countries such as Germany.

“In the past, many local surgeons tended to use European surgical equipment due to quality and safety issues,” a cosmetic surgeon, who owns a private practice in Seoul, told Korea Biomedical Review, asking to remain anonymous. “However, nowadays many are opting to use products from Pakistan as they are more affordable and have similar qualities with products made in Europe.”

With demands of Pakistan’s medical products increasing, the Pakistan embassy in Seoul and various Pakistani medical equipment companies participated in “KIMES (Korea International Medical and Hospital Equipment Show) 2018” in March.

However, medical devices are not all Pakistan has to offer.

Korea Biomedical Review met with Adnan Iqbal, Pakistani Commercial Counsellor to Korea, to obtain more in-depth insight into what the country has to offer and the cooperation between the two countries.

Adnan Iqbal, Pakistan’s Commercial Counsellor to Korea, emphasizes the limitless opportunities of doing business in Pakistan, during an interview with Korea Biomedical Review at the Pakistan Embassy in Seoul.

Question: What do the Pakistani people think of Korea’s health system?

Answer: The Korean health sector provides quality service at an amazingly affordable price compared to the stature of its institutions. The medical insurance system covers all significant illnesses, and the government subsidizes medical services through various steps. Medical services are highly rated in Korea, while the nation is also famous for its excellence in surgical procedures, including major illnesses and ancillary services like dermatology and cosmetic surgery.

Q: What impression did you have during your visit to a Korean hospital? What was particularly impressive or disappointing? How are the Pakistani people residing in Korea receiving medical treatment? What comments are they making regarding Korean hospitals?

A: The experience has been convenient from making an appointment by online or telephone to on-time satisfactory medical services. The Pakistani community is utilizing community and private hospitals as per their need and convenience. No major issues have come to my attention.

Q: What are some ongoing bilateral projects in the biomedical sector?

A: Korean contractors are working on specialized health facilities, including pediatrics and nephrology. They have also constructed hospitals that can conduct kidney and liver transplants in different parts of Pakistan.

Q: On which healthcare areas is the Pakistan government currently focused? And how can Korea help in such areas?

A: The Pakistani government is always focusing on extending quality healthcare facilities to our citizens. We are also devoting our energy to fields such as mother and child health, cancer, hepatitis, primary and secondary health sector and HIV. Korea can share its experiences in public health system especially for primary and secondary health sectors and also its medical insurance schemes for the general public. The other areas may include research-based cooperation in eradicating hepatitis, HIV and other virus-borne diseases.

Q: Regarding medical devices, various Pakistani companies participated in KIMES 2018. How did they do business-wise? Were there any comments on the event?

A: All participants were pleased with the convention. They were pleased and are willing to participate again next year. Every year the number is growing for companies that want to join the conference. Regarding any feedback about the convention, we are delighted with the way the convention was conducted. The participants received excellent responses from the customers. The conference also provided translation service making it easier for our exhibitors.

Q: What are business opportunities for Korean medical and pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan?

A: Pakistan and China are currently working on a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) starting from Xinjiang, China, to Gwadar, Pakistan. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region. The CPEC will have six to eight economic zones that aim to help businesses that set up shop in the area. We will offer about one-third of the project area for foreign enterprises, and Korean companies can also come in and form their economic zones after receiving approval from our government or join in a joint venture with Pakistan companies. Benefits of the economic zone include low infrastructure, wage, and utilities. All the businesses in the area will also receive a 10-year tax holiday. Right now corporate income tax in Pakistan is 35 percent. Any machinery or equipment they bring will also be exempted from taxes.

Another notable benefit is that any products made in Pakistan can reap benefits from our free trade agreement (FTA) with China. Since Chinese goods can travel to Gwadar to find markets in the Middle East and Europe, and any products manufactured in Pakistan can travel to China, medical device and pharmaceutical companies that come to CPEC can enjoy market reach extending from Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

The application process is straightforward, providing that a company has all the required documents, the approval will only take one business day.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add or say to the Korean government or the healthcare industry in Korea?

A: I would like to take this opportunity to suggest closer interaction and cooperation between governments of Pakistan and Republic of Korea in establishing centers of excellence in all provincial capitals to promote research in general health and community medicine in Pakistan.

corea022@docdocdoc.co.kr

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