Local footwear manufacturers should improve the design and quality of their products to attract local customers after bringing the local footwear market under free trade agreements, said experts.

According to the Vietnam Leather Footwear and Bag Association (Lefaso), local demand for footwear reaches 150 million pairs per year and local producers have met only 40 percent of the demand, reported Dien dan Doanh nghiep newspaper.

Local footwear mainly caters to rural and remote areas that have people with low incomes. Therefore, large footwear manufacturers often make footwear products for exports and have left the domestic market to small and medium enterprises, the association noted.

Meanwhile, the domestic leather and footwear industry does not have any standard for the use of chemical residues in products. It does not have quality verification centres to ensure the quality of raw materials or finished products.

Nguyen Van Khanh, general secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Leather Footwear Association, said Vietnamese footwear producers should pay more attention to the design of their products to attract more local customers.

They should build a trade mark and distribution system as well as take flexible marketing measures, Khanh said.

Tran Van Tac, General Director of the Tuan Viet Co. Ltd. and the owner of Tuvi's footwear brand, said some of the major factors for developing the domestic footwear market were quality, design, and price.

The Lefaso, along with the Vietnam Leather Footwear Institute and other related agencies, will build a system to ensure product quality standards for protecting the domestic footwear industry and market and to help them compete with imported footwear.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has also submitted to the government a decree to help the support industry in various sectors, including leather and footwear. Support industries are expected to ensure the sustainable development of sectors in the domestic market.-VNA