The US group Nike has affirmed Vietnam as its key production base, said Nick Athanasakos, vice president in charge of global sourcing and manufacturing.

Vietnam plays an extremely important role in Nike's manufacturing market, Athanasakos told Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh during his visit to Vietnam last week.

According to the Nike official, the group exports about 158 million pairs of shoes every year (with the Nike and Converse brands), which are manufactured by 40 factories in Vietnam, and generates about 300,000 jobs for Vietnamese workers.

Approximately 50 percent of footwear exports of Vietnam are products of Nike, with the value of Nike shoes made in Vietnam for export to the US exceeding 2 billion USD.

Athanasakos attributed labour cost as an important reason for the group to continue choosing Vietnam as a production base.

Besides, the Vice President said his group strives to raise the rate of domestic raw materials to reduce product costs.

When Nike first stepped into Vietnam, it had to import 98 percent of raw materials to produce a pair of shoes, but now the figure has dropped to 56 percent, and domestic raw materials will completely replace imported ones in the future, he said.

Athanasakos said Nike is also looking forward to Vietnam’s negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (FTA).

TPP and FTA are very important to Vietnam, he said, hoping that Vietnam could successfully negotiate the two deals. The EU market is not only important for Vietnam, but also for Nike./.