Vietnam’s export of footwear to Thailand has increased sharply in the past four years, jumping from 6.6 million USD in 2010 to 25.87 million USD in 2013.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in January 2014 Vietnam shipped 2.01 million USD worth of footwear to Thailand and since 2012, the country’s monthly footwear export value to Thailand has stood at above 1 million USD on average.

Thailand has become one of Vietnam’s four largest footwear importers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the department said.

Nguyen Van Khanh, Chairman of the Leather and Footwear Association in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, said that Vietnam will have chances to ink more contracts with Thailand in the labour-intensive sector, as the partner country will stop producing its own footwear some time in the future.

Apart from a shortage of labour, Thailand is facing challenges posed by the unstable Baht, high labour cost and fierce competition from other producers, Khanh said.

He added that many small-and medium-sized footwear producers in Thailand have had to suspend operation and to export materials to foreign countries, including Vietnam.

Currently, several Thai businesses are seeking to bring their production lines to other markets with cheaper labour costs, experts said, noting this could be an opportunity for Vietnamese footwear.

Several months ago, a delegation of 30 Thai businesses operating in the sector visited Vietnam to seek long-term investment opportunities.

Kanchit Juntanapornchai, Chairman of the Association of Thai Footwear Industrial Promotion, said a number of Thai businesses wish to import Vietnamese footwear to service domestic and export demands.

He suggested Vietnam take advantage of uncertainty in the sector in other countries by improving the quality of its own services and products.

According to Diep Thanh Kiet, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association, Thailand boasts a strong footwear industry as the country not only sells products of well-known brand names and importers worldwide but also establishes distribution networks in foreign countries.-VNA