Trend: Koreas Medical Device Exports Grow by Double Digits

Korea now exports as many medical devices as they import.

According to a September 2013 report by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, Korean medical device exports grew by almost 18 percent to reach $1.75 billion in 2012. Like Western medical device companies, Korean medical device manufacturers are taking advantage of the growing markets in Asia and the rest of the developing world. Korean exports to China alone, in 2012, jumped 66 percent from 2011.

Korean medical device companies now present a threat to their US and European rivals, especially in the developing world. Most Korean exports consist of mid-value medical devices like infusion pumps or mid-range versions of advanced equipment like X-ray machines. However, some sophisticated Korean medical device manufacturers are now beginning to make high-end products like MRI imaging equipment, and knee implants.

Korea’s government has also recently launched a new campaign to support its domestic medical device companies at home and overseas. At the end of October, 2013, Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare opened two “comprehensive support centers” in Vietnam and Indonesia. These support centers will target local doctors and importers in an effort to market inexpensive Korean medical devices.

In addition, Korea’s government recently passed several policies favorable to domestic R&D investment in medical devices. As a result, large companies — such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai — have started to expand their medical device product lines.