China's pharmaceutical market has over the past few decades, become recognized as one of the most important in the world. Pharmaceutical sales in China have grown at an average annual rate of 14 percent for the past 15 years. The total market in 1999 stood at US$ 8 billion with Western imports accounting for nearly two-thirds, or US$ 5 billion of the total number. Deloitte Touche estimates that Western imports to China will increase to US$ 10 billion by 2005, on a par with import levels in France and Italy. However, China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) is now making such estimates look increasingly conservative, with sales subsequently expected to top US$ 60 billion by 2010. Some business analysts predict that China will become the world's largest pharmaceutical market by 2020.