Free trade agreements between ASE AN countries and the EU would help Vietnam's footwear industry enjoy a reduction of tariffs from the current 12.4 percent to zero.

Footwear is one of Vietnam's major exports, accounting for between 7-12 percent of the country's total export turnover.

According to the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), the footwear industry includes more than 500 businesses that employ more than 65,000 workers, 75 percent of them are women.

The EU is an important trading partner for Vietnam and also a traditional market for the Vietnamese footwear sector.

Last year, footwear earned an export turnover of 8.76 billion USD, accounting for 7.6 percent of the country's entire export revenue. Export revenue from shoes alone accounted for 2.65 billion USD and export revenue from bags was valued at 434 million USD.

Vietnamese footwear products have several advantages in the EU market, as the anti-dumping levy on Vietnamese leather-upper shoes was lifted. However, the Vietnamese footwear industry faces strong competition from India and Indonesia .

Leaders of Lefaso affirmed that free trade agreements offer great opportunities for Vietnamese products to access the EU's 27-nation market with a population of 499 million people.

Over the past years, trade in footwear between Vietnam and the EU has largely been the EU importing shoes and bags from Vietnam while Vietnamese businesses use the consultancy service and purchase machines and equipment from Spain, Portugal and Italy.

In addition, Vietnam's footwear industry is also a beneficiary of projects supported by the EU.

To help develop a sustainable footwear industry, Lefaso has urged local shoes makers to update technology to enhance their productivity and improve product quality to create high added value products.-VNA