By LYDIA NATHAN
Exports of Malaysia’s medical devices are expected to reach RM17.7 billion this year, compared to the RM15.8 billion worth of products exported in 2016.
According to the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) Medical Device Industry Outlook 2017 that was launched at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) headquarters (HQ) yesterday, the increase is a sign that Malaysia has continued to evolve as a hub for medical device manufacturing.
Mida CEO Datuk Azman Mahmud told a press conference that more multinational companies are expected to set up shop in Malaysia, including firms that have never invested in the country before.
He said that the current medical device industry in Malaysia is an area showing great promise and the country has more than 200 medical device manufacturers with implemented investments of RM14.2 billion.
“In 2016, Mida approved a total of 41 projects with investments of RM2.9 billion. These approved projects have created over 7,300 employment opportunities, whereby the majority is in the managerial, professional, supervisory and technical positions,” he said.
The medical device business has also spurred the growth and development of local small and medium-sized enterprises in line with the government initiatives.
According to AMMI, some RM2.84 billion or 63% worth of raw materials and services were locally sourced from within the country, and 37% of raw materials were imported amounting to RM1.65 billion.
For the first-half of this year, Malaysia saw 16 medical devices projects approved, amounting to RM1.95 billion worth of investments, whereas for the same period in 2016 there were 23 projects involved, with a sum of RM1.59 billion investments approved.
A total value of cumulative investments stood at RM6.04 billion as at December 2016, growing 17.1% compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2016.
Of the total, the collective exports of AMMI members last year rose by 17% to hit RM9.7 billion in 2016.
AMMI chairman Hitemdra Joshi said that 27% of exports from Malaysia go to the US.
“From the figures, we can see that even the US companies based here, are exporting from the region itself. “The growth, exports and potential in Asia are going to be so tremendous that I think the Trump impact will not be so strong for the medical industry,” he said.
Azman added that while the medical device industry sees a bright future ahead, emerging challenges such as digitalisation, consumer empowerment and new competitors are fast reshaping its overall landscape.
“In addition, the pace of innovation in this industry will also continue to accelerate due to the country’s movement towards Industry 4.0. Industry players therefore, must be willing to shift their mindset, embrace technology, adopt research and development and keep innovating,” he said.