Exports of the country's leather and footwear sector have long depended upon foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses, as 77 percent of the total export value came from foreign enterprises.

Phan Thi Thanh Xuan, General Secretary of the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) told news portal ndh.vn that domestic leather and footwear firms have mainly manufactured for exports.

Competitive labour costs have attracted FDI inflows, as well as orders from Taiwan and the Republic of Korea.

Xuan said it could not be denied that contributions from the FDI sector promoted export growth in the industry and provided jobs for labourers.

Local firms have received management experiences, modernising technologies and deeply joining in the value chain.

However, she said the significant presence of FDI companies in footwear exports reflected the low level of competition exhibited by domestic businesses.

The sector should put in place effective and long-term solutions to balance the portion of exports between Vietnamese and FDI enterprises, as the FDI sector has an advantage in capital, experience and technology.

In addition, these businesses have markets they supply throughout the world.

Vietnam has been negotiating several trade pacts, which were expected to bring benefits to the sector. This was the reason that local footwear firms should take advantage of such trade pacts to promote their exports.

Diep Thanh Kiet, the association's vice chairman, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that another reason for the situation was the limited support industry in the sector, noting that the industry supplies only 30 percent of its needed raw materials, while spending 1.1-1.5 billion USD each year for imports of leather for production.

Kiet said local producers should be more active in supplying materials, while setting strategies and studies to meet consumers' tastes, thus increasing the value of exported products.

Phan Chi Dung, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Light Industry Department, said commercial agreements have strict regulations about the origin of products.

Dung proposed that localities should provide favourable conditions for the footwear industry to build concentrated industrial parks and become involved in supplying materials.

Lefaso's figures revealed that the leather and footwear sector has always had high growth rates, with export values at the top of the processing group.

In the first half of the year, the sector earned 6.09 billion USD from exports, of which shoes reached 4.84 billion USD, increasing 22 percent, and the value of exported bags was 1.25 billion USD, posting a 38 percent year-on-year increase.

It added that the target of export revenues of 12 billion USD this year would be possible.-VNA