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close this bookMedicinal Plants: An Expanding Role in Development (World Bank, 1996, 32 pages)
close this folder1. Introduction
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentDefinition
View the documentWorld Trade
View the documentUsage in Developing Nations
View the documentUsage in Industrialized Nations

World Trade

Medicinal plants are already important to the global economy. In 1980, for instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the world trade at US$500 million. Moreover, as above noted, demand is steadily increasing not only in developing countries but also in the industrialized nations. In both Europe and North America, for example, the demand is being fueled by an outburst of consumer interest in products that are "all-natural" as well as by aggressive marketing of herbal remedies (Lewington, 1993).

Box 1: Growth of a Global Industry

Herbal Medicine Sales

Annual Growth Rates by Region (%)

Region

Million US$

Region

1985-91

1991-92

1993-98

EU

6,000

EU

10

5

8

Rest of Europe

500

Rest of Europe

12

8

12

Asia

2,300

SE Asia

15

12

12

Japan

2,100

Japan

18

15

15

North America

1,500

India/Pakistan

12

15

15

Total

1 2,400





This rising global interest is now creating burgeoning legitimate and "'underground', trades in plant materials, many of which are already being routinely moved around the world. Most samples are collected in developing countries in a completely unregulated manner. In Nepal, for instance, numbers of medicinal plants are being uprooted and sold as raw products to India, where they are graded, packaged and exported (Edwards, 1993).