Exports of footwear, suitcases and bags of all kinds are estimated at US$19.5 billion in 2018, according to the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO).
At a meeting in Hanoi on December 26, LEFASO Secretary General Phan Thi Thanh Xuan said from January to November, the country earned US$14.61 billion from footwear shipments and US$3.07 billion from the export of suitcases and bags, up 10.9% and 3% from a year earlier.
The 11-month exports of US$17.68 billion increased by 8.4% year on year. Up to US$13.97 billion, or 78.8%, of the revenue was contributed by foreign-invested businesses.
Vietnam has shipped footwear products to more than 100 countries, she noted, adding that the five biggest markets of the US, the EU, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea make up over 82% of total footwear exports.
Footwear shipments to the US have risen by some 10%, and to China, the Republic of Korea and Japan by over 20%, mainly thanks to free trade agreements (FTAs) with these markets.
They are also major destinations of Vietnamese suitcases and bags. However, exports of these items has declined due to strong competition with other countries, Xuan noted.
She said the sector targets about US$21.5 billion in export turnover next year, when consumption demand in major markets is forecast to remain strong.
Additionally, footwear and bag manufacturing orders will continue to be shifted from China to Vietnam to wait for opportunities created by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), taking effect in early 2019, and the EU-Vietnam FTA, also expected to become effective next year.
Foreign direct investment in footwear production is predicted to keep climbing in 2019 to avoid impacts of the US-China trade tension and make use of FTAs coming into force.
Therefore, footwear exports are likely to rise in 2019, Xuan added.