KUALA LUMPUR, The rising global healthcare demand is set to propel the Malaysian medical devices sector's exports to RM21.37 billion this year after hitting a record RM19.78 billion last year, says Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (MATRADE).
Its Director of Lifestyle, Life Sciences and Medical Devices Section, Abu Bakar Yusof, said the growth would be in line with the higher global healthcare expenditure, which was projected to reach US$8.7 trillion (US$1 = RM3.86) by 2020.
"According to a poll by audit firm, Deloitte, annual healthcare spending in the world's major regions would rise to 7.5 per cent in 2020 from 2.4 per cent in 2015 to cater to the needs of the ageing population as well as to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
"Therefore, based on the external demand, coupled with the readiness of the local industry players, which have started to give more emphasis on exports, we expect the medical devices exports to reach RM21.37 billion this year," he told Bernama here recently.
In order to boost the medical devices exports, Abu Bakar said, his section would continue to participate in major medical devices-related events to develop initiatives and cater to the industry's export promotional needs.
"We will organise two international sourcing programmes in conjunction with the Association of Private Healthcare Malaysia Exposition at end-July, as well as the International Rubber Glove Conference in early September this year.
"We will also take part in the annual Germany's MEDICA Dusseldorf trade fair, which will be held in mid-November, where the local firms can seek partnerships with their German peers for the sharing of advanced technology," he said.
Abu Bakar said about 16 local companies had participated in the Arab Health 2018 held from Jan 29 to Feb 1 this year.
"Arab Health is the largest annual gathering of healthcare and trade professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, and we have recorded cumulative sales of RM367 million from that event alone, up 57 per cent from 2017," he said, adding that strong interests were seen for products such as medical gloves, humidifiers, medical waste bins, as well as medical tubes.
He said one of the biggest importers of pharma and medical devices in the United Arab Emirates was currently in negotiation to source medical devices from Malaysia.
He, however, declined to elaborate.
In addition to the above activities, Abu Bakar said, the Life Sciences and Medical Devices Section also received visits from foreign companies to source for Malaysian medical devices.
"To-date, there have been buyers from Turkey, Mexico, the US, Germany, Kenya, Brazil, and South Korea sourcing for medical gloves, dental dams, syringes, intravenous catheters, and surgical sutures, he said.
In the context of industrial development, Abu Bakar said, the Life Sciences and Medical Devices Section had planned for engagements in the areas of gaps in financing for research and development, as well as production.
"We also provide training for export purposes, diversification in applications of medical gloves, as well as integration of companies into MATRADE's developmental programmes," he said.
Asked if the increasingly protectionist moves by the US would hurt Malaysia's medical devices exports, Abu Bakar said, he did not see any immediate impact.
"In fact, many local firms are producing the products, for instance, medical gloves, for the American brands.
"Many products are also manufactured by multinational companies based here and are being exported back to the US. Therefore, we do not see any immediate impact from the policies," he added.
To ensure the sustainability of the medical devices exports, Abu Bakar said, strategic collaboration had been engaged with stakeholders such as the European Union-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said the recently-signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which was moving towards a substantial conclusion this year, would certainly help elevate the exports of medical devices.
Abu Bakar said last year, exports of medical devices grew 24.9 per cent year-on-year to RM19.78 billion versus RM15.84 billion in 2016.
He said the top five export items were medical gloves, disposable tubes, intravenous administration sets, surgical gloves, and other orthopaedic appliances.
"Collectively, these products constituted 79.3 per cent, or RM 15.67 billion, of the total medical devices exports.
"They also grew by 24 per cent (up RM3.03 billion) from a year earlier," he added.
In 2017, the top five exports markets -- the US (RM5.5 billion), Germany (RM2.29 billion), Japan (RM1.55 billion), Belgium (RM1.54 billion) and Singapore (RM1.19 billion) -- accounted for 61.4 per cent of the total exports of medical devices.
"Collectively, exports of medical devices to these markets jumped 28 per cent (up RM2.64 billion) in 2017 from a year ago," he said.
Abu Bakar said regionally, Europe (RM6.42 billion), North America (RM5.82 billion) and Asia (RM5.52 billion) remained the primary destinations for Malaysia's medical device exports.
"Since 2013, exports of Malaysian medical devices have grown on average of 13.4 per cent annually, from RM11.94 billion to RM19.78 billion in 2017.
"In fact, the growth in exports has continuously outpaced growth in imports, which averaged 9.6 per cent annually, resulting in the trade surplus soaring to RM14.85 billion in 2017 from RM8.5 billion in 2013," he said.-
Source:NAM News Network