Statistics on Import and Export of Medical Devices in 2019 Showed a Re-outbreak Trend in Export Growth

  • 2020-09-21
2019 was an extraordinary year for China's foreign trade in medical devices. After experiencing several trade war games between the USA and China, medical devices have maintained a strong growth and continued to expand market demands in both China and overseas, promoting the two-way growth of import and export of medical devices. China's medical devices played a positive role in the overall international trade in medical products. According to the statistics from China Customs, the total export-import amount of China's medical devices in 2019 was USD 55.487 billion, a year-on-year growth of 21.16%.

I. Re-outbreak in Export Growth of Medical Devices
In 2019, China's export growth rate of medical devices reached 21.46%, much higher that of western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine products, with an export amount of USD 28.702 billion, hitting a new high again (Table 1). The proportion of exports also increased significantly, accounting for 38.9% of China's overall exports of medicine products (36.7% in 2018). Throughout the exports over the past five years, China's medical devices have been showing a trend of rapid growth (Fig. 1) and stable major export markets. The USA was still the largest export market of China's medical devices, with an export amount of USD 7.75 billion, a year-on-year growth of 20.43%, which was far ahead of Japan and Hong Kong (China) ranking in the second and third places respectively (Table 2).
Table 1    Statistics of Import and Export Trade in China's Medical Devices in 2019

Data source: statistics of CCCMHPIE, the same below.

Table 2    Top 10 Export Markets of China's Medical Devices

(I) Massage appliance products take the lead in export.
Massage healthcare products are particularly worth mentioning among the export products. China is a major massage healthcare appliance producer and exporter in the world. For many years, such products have been the largest export product of medical devices as well as the major product of rehabilitation and healthcare products. They are increasingly favored by the international market (Table 3) by virtue of continuous innovation and improvement of product design, technical performance and intelligence by Chinese enterprises. Many product brands are also sought after by foreign consumers.

(II) There is a long uphill road to export of high-end medical devices.
Products exported from China have been always dominated by medical consumables, dressings and low-end medical equipment (Table 3). In recent years, China's high-end products such as imaging and IVD products developed rapidly, the pace of import substitution accelerated, and international market recognition also increased gradually. Some medical devices have also made certain achievements in developing market in developed countries. It's not difficult to see the products from enterprises like Neusoft, United Imaging, MinFound, Lonwin, and Anke emerging in the international market. However, the long-established medical device companies in Europe and America have monopolized the global market for a long time and the trade war between China and USA hinders Chinese enterprises from entering the international market, especially the pace of American and European countries, so there is no high-end medical device in the top ten products exported from China.

(III) The growth of exports to "Belt and Road" countries drives China's overall exports.
With the successful implement of the great initiative "Belt and Road" in China, the export of medical devices to "Belt and Road" countries has grown rapidly over the past five years. The "Belt and Road" countries have become an important market for Chinese enterprises. The amount of export to "Belt and Road" countries from China was USD 6.32 billion in 2019, a year-on-year growth of 27.3%, accounting for 22% of China's total export amount (Fig.2). India, Russia and Vietnam were the top export markets of China, with a growth rate of more than 20%; where, the year-on-year growth rate of export to Russia was up to 37.58%, reaching USD 500 million. With the deepening of medical cooperation between China and the "Belt and Road" countries, medical devices will inevitably become the most promising export product.

(IV) The concentrated benefit of import and export of medical devices is highlighted.
Seen from the import and export provinces, the production and export of medical devices are concentrated in China’s Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta regions, where, the export of Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang accounted for 58.3% of China's overall export of medical devices. The top 10 export enterprises are dominated by foreign-funded enterprises in China. Shenzhen Mindray and Ogawa ranks second and eighth in Chinese enterprises. Shanghai is the main origin of China's medical devices as well as the headquarters of most international medical device giants. Most exports pass the custom from Shanghai. In 2019, 44.62% of imported medical devices came from Shanghai. Shanghai has become an important region for integration of medical devices from China and abroad and has fully played its advantages in product research, development & production, international trade and scientific regulation.

II. Import Growth Driven by Domestic Market Demand
It was estimated that the market scale of China's medical devices would reach CNY 600 billion in 2019, which was still the second largest medical device market in the world, far faster than the growth rate of the global medical device market.

(I) China International Import Expo promoted medical devices to shine.
In the past two China International Import Expos, medical devices in the concerned healthcare exhibition area were important elements. Multinational and leading enterprises from all over the world exhibited their advanced medical products and technology here. In addition, the "Drug and Equipment Regulatory Exchange Events" jointly hosted by the National Medical Products Administration and the China International Import Bureau and undertaken by CCCMHPIE during the expo also attracted vast participants from many enterprises at home and abroad, showing the great attraction of Chinese market. It also provided unprecedented opportunities for the world and built a new platform for competition and cooperation of Chinese and foreign medical devices.

(II) The import growth stands should-to-shoulder with export growth.
In 2019, the export amount of China's medical devices was CNY 26.78 billion, a year-on-year growth of 20.84%. USA, Germany and Japan were the main source countries of China's imported medical devices. High-end diagnostic equipment was still the main imported products, such as optical instruments, color ultrasound, X-ray tomography, and implant products.