Southeast Asia's medical market will almost double by 2019

December 03, 2014

Medical manufacturing is one of the key growth areas in countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to an article posted today on the ASEANBriefing website. A rapidly expanding middle class is largely responsible for a projected near doubling of the medical device market in these countries, from $4.6 billion in 2013 to $9 billion by 2019.

Image courtesy Sujin-Jetkasettakorn/

Three ASEAN countries—Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand—account for approximately 65% of the current medical device market among the 10 member countries, according to Matthew Zito, Benedict Lynn, and Emily Liu of business intelligence firm Dezan Shira & Associates, who authored the article. The other seven are Singapore, the Phillipines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

Medical device markets within the region have been charting double digit growth rates in recent years, and will likely continue to do so, write Zito, Lynn, and Liu. "With the increased demand for better healthcare, encouraged by governmental focus on healthcare as a priority sector for trade and service liberalization . . . the upside market potential for medical devices in the region is immense," note the authors.

The individual medical device markets across ASEAN's 10 member countries are in various stages of development. Those with the greatest presence in the medtech market can be broken down as follows:


  • Malaysia and Indonesia, which are rich in rubber, lead global production in latex products such as surgical gloves and syringes. Malaysian exports in diagnostic imaging have expanded in recent years, according to research by Espicom, which estimates the country is likely to see compound annual growth of 16.1% to 2018, with growth for consumables as high as 24.8%.
  • Singapore, the region's medical and technological hub, has a thriving biomedical research and development industry, and a competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing. It is home to the manufacturing operations of more than 30 medical technology firms.
  • Thailand also has a relatively robust medical device market, worth approximately $1 billion and growing 15% annually, according to Ames Gross, President of Pacific Bridge Medical (Bethesda, MD).

On the regulatory front, ASEAN member countries have made significant strides toward developing a mature regulatory framework for medical devices, both individually and regionally, according to the article at ASEANBriefing. In particular, a regional medical device directive, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, aims to harmonize regulations across the 10 countries via legally nonbinding stipulations. This initiative is in line with ASEAN's goal to liberalize trade and investment in the healthcare sector. The AMDD will mark a significant step toward promoting easier access for medical device companies to the regional market of more than 600 million people, write Zito, Lynn, and Liu.

ASEAN countries currently remain reliant on imports to satisfy demand for medical devices: for example, as much as 97% of devices consumed in Indonesia in 2013 were imported, mainly from the United States, Japan, and Europe. Nevertheless, momentum is building for local manufacturing to transition toward more advanced products, as foreign companies move into the region to take advantage of lower costs and rising demand, according to Zito, Lynn, and Liu.

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