Footwear exports likely to fall short of target due to COVID-19 hinh anh 1The Vietnam leather and footwear industry will continue to face difficulties this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.  (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Footwear exports this year are unlikely to hit the target of 24 billion USD because of the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

According to data from the General Department of Customs, exports in the first eight months were worth 10.8 billion USD, a 9.46 percent fall year-on-year, as the two largest markets, the US and the EU, cut their orders.

Other top importers such as China and Japan also reduced orders.

The top buyer of Vietnamese footwear, the US bought 3.43 billion USD worth of products, or 8.58 percent less year-on-year, in the first seven months, the latest period for which the customs has figures for individual countries.

The EU’s imports were down 32.5 percent to 2.21 billion USD as the two biggest individual markets, Belgium and Germany, cut orders by 17.3 percent and 10.4 percent.

Imports by China were down more than 19 percent to 1.14 billion USD, while Japan’s imports decreased by 2.1 percent to 551.74 million USD.

Tran Quang Vinh, Chairman of the Phuc Yen Shoes Joint Stock Company, said import of feedstock had resumed, but, without buyers, production has dropped by 40-50 percent.

Most of the production is targeted at export markets, and so it is difficult to sell in the domestic market due to high prices, he said.

Diep Thanh Kiet, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso), said the footwear and handbag industry has the capacity to produce over 1.1 billion pairs of shoes and nearly 400 million backpacks and handbags.

“The domestic market cannot absorb this number.”

The ministry forecast that the industry would continue to face difficulties until the end of the year, and relief depends on the US and EU’s ability to control the pandemic.

It should improve its supply chain performance to take advantage of the milestone Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on August 1, Kiet said.

The pandemic remains unpredictable, but if enterprises work hard to find partners and improve their competitiveness, they still have excellent prospects, experts said.

Businesses and experts said trade promotion activities and support from authorities should both be enhanced.

Last year exports were worth nearly 19 billion USD, with sports shoes accounting for a large share./.