Vietnam’s Growing Medical Device Imports Suggest Strong Demand

As Vietnam’s healthcare market expanded in recent years, demand for medical devices of nearly every type increased. To help fulfill that demand, Vietnam imported over $600 million of medical devices in 2012, up from $400 million in 2008. Since Vietnam does not produce a wide variety of medical devices itself, imports will continue to grow as healthcare spending increases in the coming years. 

VN device imports growth
The data in the chart comes from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, which provides trade statistics based on the Harmonized System (HS), an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. The HS does not have any single category or standardized definition for medical devices, so BDG’s import calculations are based on our own classification system, which consists of 37 device categories. 

The table below provides information on the ten largest medical device import categories in 2012. As the table shows, the four largest import categories are all part of import sector “9018,” which include all “instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences.” This sector consists of 13 medical device categories in total. Taken together, these 13 categories accounted for 57% of total medical device imports in Vietnam in 2012. 

VN largest med device imports 2012
“Miscellaneous instruments and appliances” was the single largest import category in 2012, accounting for roughly a quarter of total imports. The category includes intravenous administration sets and a wide range of electronic instruments and appliances, excluding electro-diagnostic apparatuses, dental drill engines, opthalmic instruments, syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like. Vietnam imported over $160 million of devices in this category in 2012. This was 26.3% more than the amount imported three years earlier. 

“Miscellaneous electro-diagnostic apparatuses” was the second largest import category in 2012. This includes all electro-diagnostic machines other than electro-cardiographs, ultrasonic scanners, MRI machines, scintigraphic apparatuses, ultra-violent/infra-red ray apparatuses. Vietnam imported roughly $50 million of devices in this category in 2012. This was more than 10% less than in the previous year and roughly on par with the amount imported in 2010. 

The table below provides further information about the ten fastest-growing medical device categories in 2012. Only four of these categories also fell into the top ten biggest import categories in size: MRI machines; computed tomography machines; orthopedic appliances; and catheters, cannulae and the like. Imports for all the other fast-growing categories, with the exception of hearing aids, fell at less than $5 million in 2012. 

VN fast-growing medical devices 2012
With imports of medical devices growing across many categories, substantial opportunities exist in Vietnam for international manufacturers that can handle the complexities and challenges of selling here. According to our research, German, Japanese and American manufacturers are the most respected brands in the country, but tend to more expensive than devices from other countries. Device purchasers in Vietnam are more price sensitive than in more developed markets, so vendors must adjust their offerings accordingly.