Vietnam Leather Industry and Footwear Sector Progresses Towards Increased Exports

Vietnam's leather and footwear industry eyes export growth, per Phan Thi Thanh Xuan of Lefaso. With $24 billion in 2023 exports

Despite facing ongoing challenges in 2024, the leather and footwear industry sees numerous opportunities for export growth, as highlighted by Phan Thi Thanh Xuan, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso).

Vietnam’s signing of 16 trade agreements with major markets, coupled with its skilled workforce boasting over 30 years of experience in footwear production for export, positions the country favorably for export expansion.

Xuan noted that in the previous year, Vietnam garnered nearly $24 billion from leather and footwear exports, marking a 15% decrease year-on-year. Despite this decline, it represented a commendable achievement amidst prevailing business challenges.

Vietnamese footwear and handbags are currently distributed in 150 markets, with significant shares in the US (35%), the EU (26%), and China (9%).

While major export markets experienced declines in 2023, exports to China exhibited a promising upward trend, indicating potential growth opportunities for the industry in 2024.

A significant challenge facing Vietnam’s leather and footwear industry lies in meeting import market requirements concerning sustainable production practices. Xuan emphasized that while domestic companies have voluntarily embraced sustainable production models, upcoming policies from importing countries will enforce mandatory compliance.

For instance, the EU has introduced new policies on ecological products and supply chain traceability, presenting a substantial challenge for manufacturers, including those in Vietnam.

To engage in the supply chain, enterprises must adhere to customer regulations, necessitating significant upgrades in technology, management, and workforce skills training.

Lefaso pledges to facilitate access to financial resources for production and trade, support technological innovation efforts, and help businesses tap into international organizations’ assistance to enhance management and technical capabilities, aligning with the evolving demands of export markets.

In summary, Vietnam’s leather and footwear industry is strategically positioned to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities, with a concerted effort towards sustainable practices and capacity enhancement driving future growth.

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