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Bayer plans to invest more in China

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China Daily| Updated: October 17, 2023

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A view of the booth of Bayer AG during an expo in Shanghai. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

Multinational life sciences corporation Bayer AG will invest further in China and build bridges for the world to overcome global challenges, a senior executive said, acknowledging the progress that the country has made in innovation.

"We can see a lot of innovations in the country … In the pharmaceutical area, new medicines that have been introduced in the United States and Europe can now be also introduced immediately in China," said Matthias Berninger, executive vice-president of public affairs, science, sustainability and HSE at Bayer, in an exclusive interview with China Daily. "The number of drugs included in the National Reimbursement Drug List has significantly increased. This is one of the reasons why life expectancy in China has been increasing," he added.

The interview with Berninger took place at a countdown event for the upcoming China International Import Expo, which will be held from Nov 5 to Nov 10 in Shanghai.

"If China has a bad cold, the world suffers much, much more. The Chinese economy is one of the most important economies in the world, and a recovery of a strong Chinese economy will also help the rest of the world," the senior executive of the Germany-headquartered company said.

The expo, which has been held successfully for five consecutive years, is a platform to bring innovative products and industrial systems into China, and promote China's innovations to the world.

"The CIIE is one of the muscles of the Chinese economy, because it allows the exchange of products and ideas between different parts of the world. Hopefully, many conversations will happen on the sidelines of this event, which boosts innovation, strengthens global ties and ensures that we partner across different geographies in ways others at the moment have more difficulties to establish," Berninger said.

Industry experts also highlighted the importance of globalization in tackling several challenges.

"Major problems that humans are currently facing, including climate change, food security and healthcare, are global challenges that require collaborative efforts among countries and regions around the world," said Bo Wenxi, chief economist at marketing firm Interpublic Group China.

"This is particularly true for the healthcare sector, as innovations in the sector must be made based on a broad patient base around the world. In addition, innovative activities require collaborations between various markets with different resource endowments," said Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

Against the backdrop of the United States' stated objective of "decoupling" or "de-risking" from China, companies across the world are taking cautious steps.

International tensions and trade uncertainties may affect companies' willingness to cooperate globally, said An Guangyong, an expert with the Professional Committee of Credit Management of the China Mergers and Acquisitions Association.

Nevertheless, the importance of globalization is self-evident.

"Setbacks to globalization would only leave the world with fragmentation, and restrain motivations to innovate," Zhou said.

Berninger said: "If you think about a disease like cancer, for example, the war against cancer requires that we collaborate across the borders, and that our regulatory systems are harmonized as much as possible.

"We need to strike the right balance between cost control in the health system and welcoming innovation. Governments in all regions around the globe need to understand that."

"If they do not manage that, there will be less innovation. If there is less innovation, then people will not be able to benefit from the progress at the intersection of biology, chemistry and artificial intelligence that is currently exciting our researchers around the world."

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