U.S. companies who are interested in exporting to Singapore may consider appointing a local distributor to represent their company’s product and services.
Singapore’s healthcare market is expected to grow to $21.4 billion in 2020, a 9% rise over last year’s $19.6 billion, according to a Fitch Solutions market insight report in March 2020. By 2029, the market will more than double to $49.4 billion. Singapore’s healthcare spending, comprising both public and private healthcare expenditure, is expected to account for 5.9% of GDP and could go up to 9% by 2029. This increase is largely attributed to rising government spending on healthcare, as well as the local population’s consumption of healthcare services, given the aging population and a trend towards earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions, close monitoring and follow-up. Government healthcare expenditure is estimated at $13.2 billion in 2020, and this is expected to triple to $36 billion by 2029. The Fitch report, however, estimated a modest rise for private healthcare expenditure, from a forecast of $8.2 billion in 2020 to $13.5 billion in 2029. Universal healthcare is afforded to all citizens.
In March 2019, Newsweek magazine ranked the Singapore General Hospital as the third best in the world, crediting the hospital’s clinical research and outstanding nursing care. In 2017, Singapore took the top position in progress towards the health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the Global Innovtion Index 2017.
Singapore has achieved world-class standards in healthcare and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), its healthcare system ranks sixth globally and offers the fourth best healthcare infrastructure in the world. It also serves as the healthcare and medical hub of the region and offers Asia’s best healthcare system.
U.S. companies who are new to the market and interested in exporting to Singapore may consider appointing a local distributor to represent their company’s product and services. Given the small market size of the island state, most potential distributors would request exclusive rights and will also likely ask for distribution rights for the regional South East Asia.
Singapore’s public hospitals and specialty centers engage in clinical research with the many pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies based in Singapore. Singapore’s goal is to become Asia’s premier healthcare hub via the attraction of foreign patients. There is also an emphasis towards a healthy lifestyle and a focus on preventive care. As the population ages, Singapore will experience what is known as “hyper-aging” within the next twenty years. The demand for geriatric medicine and rehabilitation medicine is expected to rise.
The majority of private and public sector hospitals have already been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI). Doctors are also pushing ethical and professional standards, and it is expected that every major hospital in Singapore will have attained that widely recognized American mark of quality health care.
Singapore represents a good market for more advanced health IT systems. It has an overwhelming presence of 3G and 4G services which make the adoption of advanced mobile health and telehealth technologies less challenging than other markets. Some home-based outpatient mobile health and telehealth initiatives are already in place. Several public hospitals use a transitional healthcare model whereby medical staff visit patients at home to ensure that these patients maintain medical compliance. This initiative presents a market opportunity for health IT programs to alleviate the strain on healthcare personnel. Health technologies have gained much traction due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also led to the government refocusing efforts aimed at enhanced infection control measures, pandemic readiness and continued healthcare delivery and disease-management amidst a pandemic.
Registration Process: Medical devices are classified under four risk classes. The classification rules are adopted from guidance developed by the Global Harmonization Task Force.
There are no barriers to entry as Singapore is an open economy and a firm believer in keeping trade open. A 7.0% goods and services tax (GST) is imposed on all goods sold and services provided locally. Imports are subject to GST, but payments are refundable on re-export.
Procurement & Tenders: Singapore is a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The U.S.-Singapore FTA provides increased access for U.S. firms to Singapore’s central government procurement. The Singapore government procurement system is considered by many American firms to be fair and transparent. Government procurement regulations are contained in Instruction Manual 3, available from the Singapore Ministry of Finance. The Singapore Government also advertises its tenders on its website at www.gebiz.gov.sg