In two years natural healthcare has grown from a A$2.3bn (US$1.6bn) industry to one currently worth A$4.2bn, according to industry figures. Over the same period, it has seen its international shipments grow by 36%.
“Australian complementary medicine exports are booming,” said Carl Gibson, chief executive of Complementary Medicines Australia in the association’s pre-Budget submission.
“We have seen a growing demand for Australian products, driven by the industry’s reputation for products that meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Exports to the Asian region have more than doubled and South Korea has overtaken New Zealand as our top export market.”
With the industry on an upward trajectory, Australian companies have reflected this growth by hiring “significantly” and developing a range of technical and vocational skills through research and the use of complex technologies, said Gibson.
CMA claims that the complementary health industry directly employs 6,000 Australians in high-value jobs, while 59 manufacturing sites are licensed by TGA, the industry regulator.
“It is an industry that holds great potential to grow exponentially and to contribute further to the strength of high-skill local manufacturing and exports.”
In its pre-Budget submission, CMA outlines measures that it believes would provide savings worth A$1.8bn (US$1.3bn) to the Treasury at a cost of “minimal additional expenditure”.
These call for fine-tuning of the TGA’s approvals system, enhanced support for exporters, incentives to intensify research and the assembly of a “health taskforce” to assess preventative healthcare.
“CMA believes there is a requirement for further cooperation and collaboration between policy makers, researchers, industry and health professionals to ensure complementary medicines are a future component of policy contributing to the overall health of all Australians,” the submission concluded.