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Why Thailand is an Untapped Medtech Opportunity

Medical tourism, an aging population, and a growing middle-income class are driving rapid growth in Thailand's medical device market.

During the MD&M West Conference and Expo in Anaheim, CA last week, attendees were invited to learn about business and partnering opportunities in the Thai market and network with Thai representatives who support companies in early, mid, and mature stages of growing their Southeast Asian business plans. 

As the infographic above indicates, there are several factors driving opportunities for medtech in Thailand. Tanee Sangrat, the Consul General of Thailand's Consulate in Los Angeles, CA, said there are more than 1,000 public and private hospitals nationwide and many of these hospitals are upgrading and expanding their facilities to offer a broad range of treatments.

With about 2 million international patients traveling to Thailand every year for medical procedures, the country is quickly becoming the medical tourism hub of Asia. The number of medical tourists packing their bags for Thailand is also trending upward at a compound annual growth rate of just under 11% a year, according to the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI).

This rapid growth has created opportunities as well as challenges, however, and Thailand officials are looking to international manufacturers to import more high-tech medical devices to meet the rising demand.

The Thailand BOI offers tax and non-tax incentives for medical device manufacturers. The more high-tech the project, the better the incentive. For example, companies that make high-risk or high-technology medical devices that involve a lot of R&D and innovation can get a corporate income tax exemption for eight years without a cap, plus an exemption of import duty on all machinery and on raw or essential materials used in the manufacturing process.

Manufacturers of other, lower-risk medical devices, can expect a five-year exemption from corporate taxes plus the exemption of import duty, while companies that make medical devices out of fabrics or fibers are eligible for a three-year corporate tax exemption, plus the import duty exemption. Non-tax incentives to medical device manufacturers are offered in the form of land and currency-related permits.

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