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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

China accused of unfair bias in global medical device procurement

Health Industry Hub | May 1, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The European Commission has initiated an inquiry into China’s procurement practices of medical devices, citing alleged discrimination against European companies and their products.

China’s medical devices market, valued at approximately 135 billion euros in 2022 is the world’s second-largest after the United States.

The Commission expressed concern that China may be showing favouritism toward its domestic suppliers in the procurement of medical devices. The European Commission outlined potential methods by which this bias could manifest, including the implementation of a “Buy China” policy.

Additionally, the EU is apprehensive that China might impose import restrictions or establish conditions that result in unrealistically low bids, which are unsustainable for profit-oriented companies.

EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis stated, “We are launching this investigation with China so that we can achieve a level playing field in our procurement markets for producers of medical devices, on both sides. Regrettably, our repeated discussions with China on this trade irritant have been fruitless.”

In response, Beijing criticised the investigation, with a spokesperson from the foreign ministry asserting that it would tarnish the EU’s reputation.

“All the outside world sees is it (the EU) gradually moving towards protectionism,” said the ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, calling on the EC to “stop using any excuse to groundlessly suppress and restrict Chinese business.”

Dombrovskis added “We urge China to address the lack of reciprocity in our economic relationship. The EU welcomes competition. However, competition must be fair. And we will be more assertive in tackling unfairness.”

This investigation marks the first application of the Commission’s International Procurement Instrument, aimed at fostering reciprocity in accessing international public procurement markets. Should the investigation uncover unfair practices by China, the EU reserves the right to limit Chinese companies’ access to its 27-nation procurement market.

The Commission expects the investigation to conclude within nine months, with the possibility of a five-month extension. Furthermore, the Commission may suspend the investigation if China pledges to address the identified issues.

The EC will publish a report on the findings and proposed actions for public review. It will also present the report to the European Parliament and Council upon conclusion of the investigation and consultations.

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