How is the import and export trade?In 2017, the revenue accrued from medical equipment sales reached over 1.2 trillion yuan. China’s medical equipment industry has relied on imports primarily from the United States, Germany, and Japan, especially for high-end and innovative technology products. In 2019, imported medical apparatuses and diagnostic equipment cost the Chinese economy over 454 billion U.S. dollars. On the other hand, China’s medical exports experienced continuous growth, particularly from low-end technology, and were valued at around 29 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. The United States, followed by Japan and Hong Kong, was its major export destinations. The largest share of exports included medical apparatuses, diagnostic equipment, and rehabilitation care equipment.
What are COVID-19 impacts on the Chinese healthcare industry?In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that originated in China, the Chinese government had to fast track the reformation of its healthcare system. Measures such as the distribution of patients across the tier-system of healthcare institutions, integrating artificial intelligence to enhance diagnosis equipment, and the amendment of drug laws allowing pharmacies to introduce new medicines more efficiently, were taken to respond to the outbreak. However, certain areas of the healthcare system still warrant improvement in terms of efficiency. Digitalization seems to be the answer allowing for electronic patient data logging and online dispensation of pharmaceutical supplies. The pre-pandemic boom of offline-online healthcare services had been pushed further, whereas the use of digital platforms such as Ping An Good Doctor and Dingxiangyuan (DXY) for online consultations and making appointments was on the rise in China.
In parallel, COVID-19 has raised concerns over dependency on global medtech supply chains in China. To reduce the supply risks, the Chinese government will likely push to localize manufacturing of some medical products after the pandemic, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Local companies will be the primary beneficiaries. Some market observers projected that there would be more favorable policies for multinationals in localizing their manufacturing in China in the future.