ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand could export medical equipment
Current medical devices in Thailand are of good quality but are not very high-tech, said the leading international certification service organisation that is part of Germany-based TUV SUD.
Mr Parivat said 30 to 40 manufacturers had achieved the CE Marking for medical devices _ the only approved certification for entry into the European market _ as marketing strategies.
The value of medical devices already certified in Thailand is 60 million baht, with TUV accounting for 40 percent. The future market is expected to reach 150 million baht with massive potential since many SMEs are not certified.
TUV has 40 customers in the industry in Thailand, half of them foreign. Sales of TUV SUD in the medical sector last year totaled 1.55 billion euros, while sales in Asia-Pacific are forecast at 300 million euros this year, up from 204 million last year.
Preecha Bhandtivej, president of the Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association, said much had to be done on the domestic level first such as lowering imports of basic products before the country can reach the goal of producing high-tech products.
"For instance, if there's a garment factory that can't compete in exports, why not change it so the workers make medical gowns instead? Or maybe we could make electronic wheelchairs and beds," he said.
Mr Preecha, who is also country manager of Edwards Lifesciences in Southeast Asia, said that since most Thai hospitals refuse to use products made in Thailand, goods that receive support from the government should be able to be directly sold to local hospitals.
"Doctors still have this mindset that overseas products are better than those made in Thailand," he said.
The Asean medical device directive aims for similar standards to those of Europe by 2015.
The global medical device market is forecast to grow by 4-6%, reaching upward of US$300 billion this year.
Thailand has 1,407 medical device importers and 265 manufacturers, most of which are SMEs.
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