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DTA Export Committee Makes Trip to Sino–Dental Meeting and Exhibition

The Chinese Dental Market and Opportunities for US Companies in China

The good news about the Chinese dental market is that they desire US manufactured equipment and products as their market for dental services grows at a fast pace. The Chinese dental market is still very young with only one in ten citizens in China having regular access to government provided (or pay for services) oral care.

There are 1.3 billion Chinese citizens, of which only 350 million annually visit a dentist or clinic that provides routine oral care. Dental coverage for patients in the rural western part of the country is very spotty. There are approximately 2,000 patients per dentist and the ratio of patient to dentist is statistically worse in western and rural areas. The population is heavily tilted towards the eastern section of the country with a heavy concentration near the eastern coastal cities.

There are approximately 70 recognized companies in China currently manufacturing dental equipment and products so the need is great for other manufacturers from around the world to export their devices to China to meet the growing demand for dental services. The German manufacturers have been exporting medical devices to China for 30 years but the need for dental services is growing so fast, there is room for other international manufacturers to do business in China.        

Export Committee Report on the Sino–Dental Meeting

The DTA Export Committee led a delegation to the Sino–Dental Meeting and Exhibition in Beijing, China to gather information about the business opportunities for US companies, identify local Chinese distributors, and meet with the Sino–Dental organizers to learn more about the Chinese dental market and regulatory challenges for US companies.

Twelve US companies participated in the trip, with a few companies exhibiting with their local Chinese distributor. Other companies set up meetings throughout the exhibition with local Chinese distributors and manufacturers and the opportunity for fact finding, walking the trade show floor and getting questions answered about what is required to import and sell US dental devices in China.

It is important to note that exporting dental products and equipment to China is a long term project and companies need to consider a long term strategy (five to ten year cycle) for selling their devices in China.

Important items to consider:

  • Identify authorized distributor partners that can assist in device approval for sale in the Chinese Market.
  • Meet with government health care organizations and their decision makers to create relationships with leading medical universities.
  • Purchase Chinese patents for your devices to protect intellectual property.
  • While exporting US devices to a third party in China and selling these devices as a private label opportunity (under another company’s brand) does exist, it is frowned upon by the Chinese dental industry and the Chinese Ministry of Health.
  • The cost for re–registering dental devices in China has recently decreased. The Chinese Government is trying to make it easier for international manufacturers to get licensed and to sell their products in China including lower fees and less paperwork, especially to re–register devices for sale in China.
  • Eventually, foreign manufacturers need to make the proper connections with the Chinese Ministry of Health to grow their export sales for the Chinese market. This organization is the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center, National Health and Family Planning Commission.
  • Exporters wanting to sell their devices in China must first acquire a registration certificate from the State Food and Drug Administration of China (SFDA). Manufacturers are also required to have an appointed legal agent and after sales representative in China.
  • Manufacturers with FDA 510(k) submissions must be prepared to arrange and pay for clinical trials of their devices to sell in the Chinese market.
  • Approximately 300 million patients will need restorative work performed on their teeth in the next 15 years in China. Approximately 400 million sets of dentures or partials will be required in that same time span according to the Chinese Ministry of Health.
  • Finding English speakers is a challenge in China once you leave the largest international cities like Shanghai. Many manufacturers/exhibitors are represented at the Sino–Dental Meeting by their authorized distributor due to the language barrier.

At this juncture, DTA will not host a US pavilion at the Sino-Dental Meeting in Beijing.  DTA will continue to communicate with the Sino-Dental Meeting organizers to establish an opportunity for a US Pavilion in the future.  US companies interested in exhibiting at the Sino–Dental Meeting should contact Ms. Carol King from the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center, National Health and Family Planning Commission – Telephone: +86-10-88393917 (Fax: +86-10-88393917) and email info@sinodental.com.cn.  Also visit sinodent.com.cn.

Thank you to Christian Brutzer and Davorka Turkalj from the DTA Export Committee for their hard work and attention to detail to make the Sino–Dental Meeting trip a positive experience for our DTA members.

To continue to explore exporting to China and selling devices in the growing China Market, DTA is hosting a DTA Business Essential Webinar:  Exporting to China.  Understanding the Chinese Marketplace for Exporting U.S. Products and Dental Equipment on Tuesday, September 10th. Cost is $39 per person. If you have interest in learning more about the Chinese market and what is involved to be successful in selling in China, we strongly recommend you and your sales and export team members register and attend this one hour webinar. Click here to register.