The Outlook for Medical Devices in Latin America
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8 Key Markets Covered! Argentina
The Medical Device markets in Latin America are worth US$10.5 billion and are still growing!
The eight Latin American medical markets covered by Espicom Business Intelligence represent a market of 485 million people with a GDP of US$5.2 trillion in 2011. The region is better prepared to face global instability than in the past, economic growth is expected to be steady in 2011, after a recent period of remarkable growth. The region is now seeing all markets re-evaluate their health provision. Levels of service in the buoyant private health sector are among the best to be found, but the challenge is to provide better levels of basic healthcare to the mass of the population. Opportunities for manufacturers of medical equipment and supplies do exist, but it is knowing where and how to develop them. Brazil is the largest medical market, followed by Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela. Peru is the latest Latin American country to sign an FTA with the USA. Venezuela has tried to align neighbours into a separate bloc but these countries are reliant on US imports.
With the exception of Brazil and Mexico, the medical regulatory environment in the region is less stable than in developed markets. These young markets have not matured yet, therefore their regulatory systems are being consolidated. Brazil and Mexico, however, have more complex and mature regulatory systems. MERCOSUR members tend to follow the medical regulation established by Brazil, and there is some degree of regulatory harmonisation among them. Andean members such as Colombia are also modelling Brazil's medical regulation. Mexico operates closer to its North American allies, and follows the US' FDA regulation.
Trade in medical devices and equipment is key to the region's development with all markets dependent on imports, with the exception of Brazil, which has a strong local domestic industry. Brazil, Argentina and Chile import more high specification medical technology products, whilst Peru, Mexico and Venezuela import more consumables. Regional medical exports are low, with the exception of Mexico, which represents nearly 90% of the region's export capabilities. Continuing strong export growth in the country is almost entirely due to US manufacturers' 'maquiladora' activities. Brazil's exports are low compared to the size of its medical market, even though exports have almost doubled in the last five years. The deficit in the balance of trade is negligible for the region, due to the weight of Mexico's exports.
Highlights from the regionARGENTINAWith a population of around 41 million, Argentina is the fourth most populated country in Latin America, behind Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. About 37.9% of the population lives in the province of Buenos Aires, including the capital city. Argentina has one of the highest percentages in the region aged 65 and over (4.5 million in 2011), a significant customer base. Argentina has recovered well after an economic crisis in 2002, which affected the healthcare sector and medical device imports. Imports increased by around a quarter to US$547.2 million for the 12 months to June 2011. Diagnostic imaging and patient aids were the largest sectors.
Medical exports reached US$555.1 million in 2011. The country has a well-established medical industry, comprising local and multinational companies. Domestic production, however, is geared towards the local market. Exports are small in comparison with total production and the country consistently runs a negative balance of trade in medical equipment and supplies.
CHILEWhilst the Chilean medical market for medical equipment and supplies, at US$495 million in 2011, is small by international standards, at a per capita level it is the highest in South America. Chile is one the region's better economic performers, although its overall economy is small. GDP per capita is US$13,670 in 2011, the highest in Latin America. GDP Growth for 2012 is also predicted to be highest in the region at 4.7%. Chile has generally avoided regional trading blocs such as Mercosur, preferring bilateral agreements such as its Free Trade Agreement with the USA.
Colombia's GDP shrank from US$244.8 billion in 2008 to US$235.7 billion in 2009. The decline was experienced because of budget tightening and inflation in Colombia and global economic problems. GDP recovered during 2010 and grew to US$288.7 billion and should reach US$329.7 billion in 2011. Colombia's medical device market is heavily reliant on imports, especially in the more high tech sectors. There is some domestic capacity for more basic items. In 2011, Colombia imported medical equipment & supplies valued at US$799.3 million, their highest ever level. A few multinationals manufacture in the country. The medical device industry is concentrated around the capital Bogotá. Within the capital a free trade zone has encouraged international companies to the market.
MEXICOMexico is estimated as the largest medical equipment market in the Latin American region. The market is dominated by imports, principally from the USA. US manufacturers benefit from geographic proximity and preferential terms under NAFTA. Some of these imports, however, are used to produce goods which are eventually sent back to the USA. Mexico is the third largest medical importer in the Americas, behind the USA and Canada; Brazil is not a big importer in comparison, as it relies on local production. Exports of medical equipment and supplies were valued at US$6.2 billion in 2011. Almost all of Mexico's exports are shipped across to the USA, 91.8% of the total in 2009. Medical consumables are the major export area, accounting for 40% of the total.
The Peruvian medical equipment market grew well in the early 1990s, but then stagnated. Imports have however, performed well again since 2003. For the 12 months to September 2011, imports increased 16.9% to US$253.3 million, with diagnostic imaging taking the largest share (US$87.4 million) and seeing the biggest increase (40.7%). The market is valued at US$317.9 million in 2011. Per capita expenditure is US$10.5, a low level of spending for South America. Purchases of medical equipment often rely on donations and international aid.
VENEZUELAThe volatile Venezuelan market for medical equipment & supplies is almost entirely supplied by imported products, principally from the USA. The level of per capita spending is comparable to that in Colombia or much of Central America, but is below that found in the richer Latin American markets of Mexico and Brazil. Expenditure is heavily concentrated in Caracas and other major urban areas. The best opportunities are in the advanced private sector and the Barrio Adentro-related public sector, which was relaunched in October 2009. Venezuela relies on petroleum prices, which can be unpredictable and this has been compounded with the global recession, real GDP fell in 2009-10. However, the economy is predicted to grow at a rate of 3-4% from 2011-16. On the other hand, inflation is among the highest in the world. From 29.6% in 2010, it was expected to hit a record of 40.3% in 2011.
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