Less Taxes for Medicine is Progress

Fundación Libertad y Progreso renews the claim to eliminate tariff barriers.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in order to face the challenge that it poses, it is essential that the health system and the Argentines can have access to medicines and sanitary articles of the highest quality and at the lowest possible price. While tariff rates are falling around the world, if an Argentine needs access to imported medicines, he will have to pay an average import tariff of 9.2%, which ranges from zero in some positions to 14% in others. *

The elimination of levies on pharmaceutical products in this context will undoubtedly result in greater competition, whose beneficiaries will be all those who buy drugs and other pharmaceutical items, including the State. It must be taken into account that the public sector has to attend to the health emergency and has resources that have been strongly limited by the pre-existing crisis and by the quarantine.

In 1995, the Agreement for the Elimination of Customs Duties applicable to Pharmaceutical Products was signed, within the framework of the WTO. Since then, and surprisingly, the most significant drops in average tariff rates have occurred among low- and middle-income countries that are outside the Agreement on the Elimination of Tariffs. Unfortunately, Argentina is not part of this agreement; but, it also boasts a high tariff rate, it is among the 10 countries with the highest average tariffs on drugs.

The request of the Foundation is framed in the conviction that the greater openness of the economy puts producers at the service of consumers and results in more economic well-being for the population as a whole. Therefore, if we want a prosperous and significantly fairer country, it is our duty to demand the abolition of tariffs so that we can all have access to better, cheaper medicines.

* Philip Stevens and Nilanjan Banik, “ABOLISHING PHARMACEUTICAL AND VACCINE TARIFFS TO PROMOTE ACCESS” (Geneva Network, July 2020).