Monthly leather and footwear exports for the first time exceeded the threshold of 600 million USD in June, according to the General Statistics Office.

June's export earnings of 610 million USDlifted the industry's exports in the first six months of the year to nearly 3 billion USD, up 31 percent from the same period last year, the office said.

The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association was also optimistic about the industry's export potential in the second half of the year, saying that many producers had already received export orders for H2.

The association said that this year's volume of export orders had increased by roughly 20 percent compared to last year, and the orders' prices also surged by roughly 7-10 percent.

Despite the favourable conditions, domestic leather and footwear producers were currently facing a shortage of labour, forcing some of them to refuse new export orders, the association said.

The association's vice chairman Diep Thanh Kiet added that the domestic leather and shoe industry also faced obstacles in the form of high interest rates and inflation, as well as the rising cost of raw material this year.

The leather and footwear industry this year targeted an export turnover of 5.5 billion USD after gaining nearly 5.1 billion USD last year.

At present, Vietnam's leather and footwear products are exported to 50 countries and territories worldwide including the US, the EU, Japan, Belgium, Holland, France and Denmark. The country is one of the world's 10 leading footwear exporters.

With a sector growth strategy for 2020 approved recently by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which will focus on the development of supporting industries as well as material supply, the industry expected to earn 9.1 billion USDin export turnover by 2015 and 14.5 billion USD by 2020./.