The growth of the medical equipment market is accelerating as the demand for medical instruments for the prevention and diagnosis of diseases is skyrocketing in today’s aging society. An increasing number of people are spending more and more money to achieve a long and healthy life. Not only are precision medical equipment for treatment purposes in increasing demand these days, but those for the early diagnosis of ailments are too.
Korea’s medical industry is characterized by its production structure revolving around cheap products, and high dependence on imported cutting-edge instruments and advanced pharmaceuticals. However, the importance of an organic link between continuous R&D investment and the commercial utilization of the outcome is particularly huge in the industry.
According to research firms, the global medical appliance market grew 1.7% between 2011 and 2012 to get to US$308.3 billion in size. By country, that of the US amounted to US$118.9 billion in 201,2 to account for 38.6% of the global total, followed by Japan (US$32.4 billion) and Germany (US$23.1 billion). Korea was found to be 13th on the list in the same year by recording US$4.07 billion.
In 2012, Korea’s medical equipment exports grew 17.6% year on year to US$1.967 billion, while the imports increased by 3.2% to US$2.601 billion. The trade account deficit has been continuing for years, but the size of the deficit has been on the decline. Specifically, the deficit decreased by 25.2% from a year earlier to US$634 million in 2012.
Korean medical appliance suppliers would be well advised to work on innovative products through consistent R&D, in order to increase their presence in the fast-growing global market. Also, the government has to come up with a well-organized and efficient R&D support policy while maximizing the technological trickle-down effect by setting up medical industry clusters. Then, their strengthened competitiveness and brand awareness will be able to become one of the future growth drivers for the Korean economy.