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International: A Mixed Bag (in a Good Way) in South and Central America

December 1, 2008

2 Min Read
International: A Mixed Bag (in a Good Way) in South and Central America


Free trade agreements have, without question, helped the penetration of medical device manufacturing in and exporting to South American and Central American countries.

Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic offer growing opportunities for medical device manufacturing. However, Costa Rica may have cornered the market. It has been pursuing medical device manufacturing for several years and has the largest number of exports per year in this sector.

The United States is the primary supplier of medical devices and equipment for most South American countries. Argentina and Chile, for example, receive at least 40% of goods from U.S.-based companies. A harmonization project between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay may ease device registration in those countries. It is important to keep in mind that each country is unique and manufacturers often struggle with registering medical devices for export, or figuring out where to open the next facility. The main lesson is that device OEMs must do their homework. Economic and governmental stability, as well as education levels are critical factors to consider if the goal is to establish offices and facilities in the individual countries.

Click images and tables to enlarge:


Trade in medical devices and equipment is key to the region's development with all markets dependent on imports. —Espicom Business Intelligence



Medical device exports from Costa Rica. Figures for 2008 are estimated. Source: Procomer and CINDE Intelligence.


Brazil by the Numbers

$286 billion
Value of the Brazilian medical
market in 2005.

$120 million
Value of the home-care sector in Brazil, which is expected to grow 15–25% during the next decade.

Percent of local and multinational companies that supply
Brazil's medical industry market. Brazil is unusual in that imports hold only a small share of the market.

Source: Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment, “Brazil Medical Device Industry,” June 2007.


The top five device and disposables companies in the Dominican Republic. The device industry makes up 3% of the country's total manufacturing. Source: Analysis of Medical Devices and Disposables Manufacturing and Export Potential in the Dominican Republic, June 2005.

Copyright ©2008 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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