Vietnamese footwear exporters are looking forward to big gains this year as their revenue in the January – May period surged 11.4 percent year-on-year to 3.1 billion USD, a positive figure amid the global economic malaise.

According to the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (LEFASO), domestic footwear producers have secured a stable supply of orders. Apart from sports and canvas shoes for export, the sector is focusing its on briefcases and handbags to rake in higher returns.

To earn 9.7 billion USD from exports this year (10 percent higher than last year’s figure), the sector is seeking more orders from South America. Domestic companies are stepping up research, development and collaboration to supply footwear materials to promising partners in India and Brazil .

Notably, Vietnam was honoured with five international shoe design awards for Asia after beating 180 entries from 8 regional countries.

The rate of locally-made materials is a mere 40 percent. This is expected to increase to between 60 and 65 percent this year once the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is signed.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is encouraging companies to enhance investment in materials production using environmentally friendly technology. The move is expected to put Vietnam in the top five footwear producers and exporters by 2020.

Once the Vietnam–EU Free Trade Agreement comes into effect, preferential taxes will be cut from 14.3 to zero percent. From early next year, Vietnam’s footwear products destined for EU markets will enjoy tariffs in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Capitalising on future trade agreements between Vietnam and the EU, numerous UK and German footwear exporters are seeking business opportunities in Vietnam .

The US remains Vietnam’s leading footwear and leather importer with a turnover of 755 million USD, ahead of the UK (149 million USD), Belgium (140 million USD), Japan (121 million USD) and China (114 million USD).-VNA