The African market declined in 2020, primarily due to steep market declines in Egypt and South Africa, and is forecast to return to growth in 2021. The women’s health market continues to be a growth driver in many African countries. Low-end and mid-range systems continue to be the fastest growth product categories.
China: Market growing in 2021, but not as fast as in recent years
In 2020, the Chinese market is estimated to have declined by around 10%. The market is expected to bounce back in 2021, with high single-digit growth forecast. Drivers of growth in the coming years will be through government investment into rural healthcare and an upward shift in the ultrasound product mix to more sophisticated systems in non-major city urban areas.
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In May 2021, because of the census in 2020 that showed a steep decline in birth rates, the government further relaxed their two-child policy by allowing families to have up to three children. This is expected to lead to a short-term spike in demand for ultrasound systems, as seen when the two-child policy was introduced in 2016.
Japan: Government supplemental budget drives 2021 recovery
The ultrasound market in Japan declined by 2.5% in 2020. This was due to a combination of customers bringing forward purchases in 2019 to avoid the tax increase at the end of the year, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An emergency supplemental budget was announced by the Japanese government at the end of 2020. This budget includes ¥10 billion for ultrasound equipment, which was released in 2021 Q1, with another smaller budget to be released in 2021 Q3. This initiative is primarily targeted at the point of care market, with a $100k cap on the systems purchased with this budget. Some of the budget will also be used for the radiology and cardiology markets, with no cap on system prices. As a result, the Japanese market is forecast to fully recover to 2019 revenue levels in 2021.
Southeast Asia: A mixed bag, but most regions declining
Largest growth in the rest of the Asia region in 2020 was seen in Indonesia, Australia and Thailand. The growth was driven by panic buying of ultrasound systems by hospitals in Australia in response to the pandemic, as well as the introduction of a tax incentive to purchase new systems, and large public tenders in Indonesia and Thailand. Most of the bigger markets in the Southeast Asia region are forecast to decline in 2021, due to either continued impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, or a correction from the inflated growth in 2020. The political instability in countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam is another reason these countries are forecast to decline in 2021.