Leather and footwear enterprises had improved their competitiveness over the last two years, thanks to a Multilateral Trade Assistance project between the EU and Vietnam, according to the secretary of the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), Nguyen Thi Tong.

Speaking at a workshop on the In Trade project, which aims to enhance the competitiveness of leather and footwear enterprises, on Nov. 8, she said this is most important, as shoes and leathergoods are one of the key export products of Vietnam.

In two years of operation, the project has run training courses on commercial policies for senior management. These include approaching the markets, technical support for development - and study courses for overseas staff of leather and footwear enterprises, Tong said.

The project has also helped renovate designs and to develop collections of footwear to build a trade name for Vietnam's export footwear on the domestic and world markets, she said.

Enrico Perego, from Octagona, an international business consulting organisation, said all enterprises need to build trade marks, especially small-sized enterprises. He said trade marks are an effective way for customers to identify something they like.

Tong said the ongoing target of the project is to establish sustainable development for the industry by developing business and co-operation opportunities with foreign partners.

Vietnam is the fourth largest exporter of footwear in the world, but 90 percent of this is for foreign companies who supply most of the materials, much of it from Chinese mainland, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea . Exports hit 2 billion USD every year, but the volume of it bearing Vietnamese brands accounted for only 10-15 percent./.