Latin America Medical Device Market Reports

Latin America Medical Device Market Reports

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The eight Latin American medical markets covered by Espicom Business Intelligence represent a market of 497 million people with a GDP of US$5.4 trillion in 2013. After a recent period of remarkable growth, economic growth in the region is expected to be steady in 2013, except in Venezuela, affected by a weakening local currency. The region is 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, Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina.

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 Argentina, and there is some degree of regulatory harmonisation among them. Andean members such as Colombia and Peru 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 more than doubled in the last eight years. The deficit in the balance of trade has increased in recent years, in spite of the weight of Mexico's exports.

Highlights from the Region

Diagnostic imaging takes the largest share of the Argentine medical market, followed by other medical devices and consumables, whilst the share for dental products is the smallest. Although GDP growth will be modest for the next five years, Espicom projects the medical device market will grow at a considerably fast 2012-17 CAGR. Prior to the economic crisis, Argentina had the highest medical expenditure per capita in Latin America, but in US dollars it now lags behind Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela. Imports account for around 89% of the market.

Brazil has the largest economy and medical device market in Latin America, but per capita medical expenditure is still very low. The highest expenditure is in the large cities, such as Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, but producers are moving into regional markets outside the major state capitals. Imports hold a relatively small share of the market and tend to be high-tech medical equipment not produced locally. About 70% of imports are supplied by Europe and the USA. 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.

Chile is one of Latin America's better economic performers, although its overall economy is small. GDP per capita is the highest in Latin America. The Chilean medical market is small by international standards, but per capita spending is high at a regional level. The market is projected to rise by a high 2012-17 CAGR. Chile produces very little medical equipment, so the market is largely supplied by imports. The USA is the dominant supplier, accounting for around a third of total imports. The European Union supplies nearly a further third of total imports.

Colombia is the third largest country in Latin America, behind Brazil and Mexico, with a population of 48 million. Foreign investors are attracted by its natural resources and a more recently stable political environment. Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. The Colombian medical device market is heavily reliant on imports, especially in the more high tech sectors. There is some domestic capacity for more basic items. A few multinationals manufacture in the country. The medical device industry is concentrated around the capital Bogota. Within the capital, a free trade zone has encouraged international companies to the market.

Cuba is one of the world's last unreformed communist countries. The healthcare sector is highly centralised and controlled by the government. Relations between the USA and Cuba are marginally warmer, with the US reiterating in July 2012 that it is open to discussion with Cuba, subject to certain conditions. That said, US companies cannot directly supply the medical market because of the trade embargo. The US embargo does not really hurt Cuba because alternative products are available from other countries.

Mexico is the second largest medical equipment market in Latin America. 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 leading medical importer in Latin America. Population growth, increasing health expenditure, chronic disease incidence and new technology acquisition, particularly diagnostic & orthopaedic equipment in the public sector, are factors contributing to growth. The improved economic outlook has boosted growth prospects in the 2012-17 period. Future growth will depend in part on growth within the US economy, which remains the country's main trade and investment partner.

Peru is often overlooked when discussing the rapid-growth economies of South America. While it has neither the size nor the wealth of Brazil or Argentina, the country has recorded strong economic growth in recent years. The Peruvian medical device market is one of the smallest in Latin America, and per capita consumption is low by regional standards. Decent levels of spending can be found in Lima but provision in the rest of the country is far less. Peru produces very little medical equipment, so the vast majority of the market is supplied by imports. Medical device exports are negligible.