Drugs and medicines: how Moscow's medical exports changed during the pandemic
During 2020, the export flows of Russian medical products changed more than once. On the one hand, the coronavirus pandemic provoked a sharp increase in demand for medicines, antiseptics, and personal protective equipment. However, the restrictions and closed borders paralyzed the supply of medical products from Russia to other countries for several months.
As a result, the first six months of last year, Russian exporters of medical products closed at a loss. The drop in supplies was 20.7% compared to January-June 2019. Analysts of the Russian Export Center note: in total, the portfolio lost about 236,627 thousand dollars, amounting to 904,404 thousand dollars at the end of September. At that time, experts made a disappointing forecast: despite the fact that the export of medical products "will add up" some more, it will definitely not reach the level of 2019 ($1,838,535).
If we compare the first and second quarters of 2020, there is also a clear downward trend in supply volumes. Thus, in April-June, they halved compared to January-March. This was due to restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic: the closure of borders around the world led to a general decrease in shipments to other countries and the suspension of tourist traffic.
In the first seven months of 2020, Russian exports of medical devices totaled $673.32 million. Masks, respiratory equipment, thermometers, X-ray diagnostic equipment, defibrillators and blood transfusion equipment accounted for the largest share of exports. The share of medical device imports in the Russian Federation decreased by 6.5% compared to 2019.
As for the medical equipment segment, experts predicted its reduction by about 6.2% by the end of 2020 (if we compare it to the twelve months of 2019). Despite this, market players are very optimistic. They agree that the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of new scientific research in the field of medicine, creation of innovative developments and intensification of the production process in this sector. In the current year the representatives of the industry expect the stabilization of export volumes, and even a slight increase. Presumably, the level of demand from other countries for Russian medical products in 2021 may increase by 5-7% compared to 2020.
The geography of export supplies in this sector has not demonstrated anything unusual. According to the results of the second quarter of 2020, the key buyers of medical products from Russia have traditionally been the states of the following regions:
- CIS (34.5%);
- Europe (15%);
- East Asia (14.1%);
- ART, except for East Asia (20.6%);
- Middle East (4%).
India, Germany, Kazakhstan, China and Belarus purchased the most goods from domestic producers. It should be noted that India closed the first 9 months of 2020 with a 49.2% increase in value.
In terms of exports of medical products the first line was taken by the manufacturers of the capital. The coronavirus pandemic provoked a surge in demand for protective masks and breathing equipment. From January to July 2020, Moscow exporters have sent their goods to 114 countries, earning $186 million. The top Russian regions for medical exports also included the Moscow region (earning $125 million), St. Petersburg ($56 million) and the Nizhny Novgorod region ($29.82 million).
Despite severe restrictions on international trade caused by the covid pandemic, domestic exporters manage to find new reserves for growth and expansion of sales volumes. Analysts note that our compatriots finally have time to take care of their health. In addition, the vast majority of purchases (including medicines and medical products) can now be made online without leaving home. The situation in the international market in 2020 showed an increase in the number of distributors who actively use this trade format and do not reduce sales volumes, despite the unstable state of the world economy and the pandemic.
According to the majority of players in the medical products market, export volumes in this direction will begin to actively increase from 2021. The detailed forecast is quite logical: this economic sector is waiting for diversification due to the emergence of innovative technologies, equipment and machinery, the search for effective methods of treatment of complex viruses like covid.
Today, as 2020 has sunk into the past, it is possible to summarize its more accurate results. Undoubtedly, the period was extremely challenging, both for domestic health systems and for the international economy as a whole. Although there has been tremendous demand for personal protective equipment, medical devices for laboratory diagnosis, intensive care equipment and other similar products around the world this year, global production of medical devices has shown a 1.8% decline compared to the same period in 2019. The reason for this state of affairs lies in the lockdown, the reorientation of some production facilities and the closure of borders of states, due to which factories could not receive the necessary components on time, and their production facilities were idle.
It should be noted that Russia occupies about 1.3% of the global market in the medical device manufacturing sector. In 2020, the total volume of medical device production in our country fell by 5.2% compared to 2019. But there is positive news: over the past year, the share of the segments of products for resuscitation and laboratory (in-vitro) diagnostics, as well as general hospital equipment has grown significantly.