Industry Report

Attractive medical technology markets: Chile and Argentina

Chile offers Swiss medtech a relatively easy market entry and a high awareness of quality. In light of Switzerland's free trade negotiations with the Mercosur trading bloc, medtech exporters should keep Argentina on their radar.

High-quality Swiss medical technology: Opportunities in Latin America
High-quality Swiss medical technology: Opportunities in Latin America

Switzerland has been negotiating a free trade agreement with South America's Mercosur trading bloc for several months. Brazil is by far its largest market, but the other member states can also offer interesting sales opportunities for Swiss medtech exporters.

Keep Argentina on the radar for medical technology

Argentina has traditionally spent about 7% of its GDP on public health. The change in government in 2015 also heralded a change in economic policy and eased many import restrictions. It is true that the country is currently experiencing economic difficulties again – the Argentinian peso has recently lost a lot of value – but it nevertheless may be worth keeping the medical technology market on the radar, since it is heavily dependent on foreign imports. In the health sector, over 70% of goods come from abroad.

Collaborating with an importer, who in turn is registered with ANMAT (Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica), is a prerequisite for the delivery of medtech goods to Argentina. This importer will also register the product, which takes 6-24 months. There is a uniform tariff regulation of an average 14% for medical products within the Mercosur region.

Chile: close trading relations simplify market entry

This Pacific country is not part of the Mercosur trading bloc. It traditionally conducts a very open trading policy and has had a trade agreement with Switzerland for years. In Chile as well the quota for imports in the medtech sector is over 95%, with a market volume of 785 million US dollars. This is implemented in both the private and public sectors, with the latter accounting for around two thirds. Here, public tendering procedures are the order of the day, while direct negotiations prevail in the private sector. The technical level is high: the Chilean medical community sees itself as a pioneer in the region and is trying to implement the latest medtech trends.

From a legal point of view, Chile does not oblige an exporter to work with a local partner. This is, however, often very effective when it comes to promoting and distributing products.

Some medical devices require registration by the Chilean Institute of Public Health (ISP); the process takes an average of 60 working days. The registration is valid indefinitely and costs approximately 85 USD per product.

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