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Vietnam’s footwear exports rise 4.4 times in 10 years

By Le Hoang

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HCMC – With 1.23 billion pairs, Vietnam’s footwear exports in 2020 posted a 4.4-fold increase compared with 2011, according to the World Footwear Yearbook 2021.

Vietnam accounted for 10.2% of the world’s total footwear exports in 2020, skyrocketing from a mere 2% in 2011.

Footwear products of world-renowned brands such as Nike, adidas, Reebok and Puma are now manufactured on a large scale in Vietnam.

Vietnamese-made footwear products have been exported to over 150 countries and territories, with the United States, the European Union, Japan, China and the United Kingdom being the major markets.

The U.S. is the largest footwear importer of Vietnam, accounting for over one-third of the country’s total footwear exports. Vietnam’s footwear exports to this market enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 13% in the 2015-2019 period.

Vietnam becomes world’s major textile footwear exporter 

After a decade of growth, the share of textile footwear in world exports decreased in volume over the last two years, although it has stabilized in value, reflecting an increase in price for this type of footwear.

Leather footwear slightly increased its volume share in the same period, seemingly having reversed the downward trend it had been showing since the beginning of the century and stabilizing its share value.

In 2020, Vietnam was responsible for more than one quarter of the world’s textile footwear exports, making it to the top 10 exporters of textile footwear.

China was close behind but, for the first time since the World Footwear Yearbook was launched 10 years ago, was not leading the exports of one of the main categories of footwear exports.

The two countries had a very different market positioning, with Vietnam on average charging US$19 per pair exported while China charges only US$5 per pair.

Covid-19 pandemic severely affects footwear production and exports

The World Footwear Yearbook showed that the Covid-19 pandemic had severely hit the footwear business, with global footwear production in 2020 falling by almost 4 billion pairs over the previous year.

Production fell by 15.8% in 2020, wiping away all the growth accumulated over the last 10 years. The impact of the pandemic was widespread and, at an aggregate level, did not significantly affect the geographic distribution of footwear production.

Asia still accounts for almost nine out of every 10 pairs of shoes manufactured worldwide and increased its share by 0.2 percentage points. Africa also marginally increased its share in the world total at the expense of North and South America, with Oceania playing only a minor role in the industry.

China is the world’s largest footwear producer, accounting for 54.3% of the world’s total production. However, in 2020, the Asian giant reduced its production by more than 2 billion pairs and continued to lose its world share, down by one percentage point. This reflects a shift of production into other Asian countries, including Vietnam.

While footwear production declined by 15.8% year-on-year in 2020, footwear exports fell by 19%. Asia is the origin of most of the footwear exported, but its share of the world total has been slowly declining over the last 10 years.

Due to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s footwear exports in 2020 fell 8.3% compared with 2019, reaching US$16.79 billion.

Early this year, the country’s footwear exports recovered strongly. But the fourth wave of Covid-19, which began in late April 2021, forced many footwear producers to suspend their production.

The situation has improved since late September. However, it will take long for footwear production and exports to rebound to the pre-pandemic level.

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