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.

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