Brazilian footwear exports dropped 16% in March, and 11% in the first quarter of this year, when compared to 2004. According to the Brazilian Association of Shoe Manufacturers (Abicalçados), in March, 20 million pairs of shoes were shipped abroad, and in the first three months of 2005, more than 60.1 million pairs were sent to other countries.
According to the Executive Director of Abicalçados, Heitor Klein, March’s total exports of US$ 160 million were 3% inferior to that of March of last year, when they reached US$ 164.8 million. Klein said that manufacturers attribute the bad numbers to the exchange rate policy, which has been making business difficult for several months.
The government and private enterprise reaffirmed, ealier this year, their partnership for the promotion of footwear and leather accessory exports.
On January 11, the Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, signed a contract renewing the Export Incentive Program for the Footwear Sector.
The goal of the program is to expand footwear exports by 11% this year alone. The program is known as Brazilian Footwear and has been in existence for two years.
The Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex) will be in charge of coordinating the program. The government and private enterprise plan to invest US$ 9.3 million (25.5 million reais) just in 2005.
The Brazilian Association of Footwear Industries (Abicalçados), the government’s partner in the project, will help obtain the private investment portion.
The program intends to generate at least 1,100 jobs in coming years, as well as increasing the number of export firms in the sector from 550 to 1,100.
The footwear sector ended 2004 with its best results since 1993, with the production of over 700 million pairs, of which nearly 200 million were exported.
Export receipts were up 15%, closing the year at US$ 1.8 billion. The Brazil Footwear’s goal is US$ 2 billion in exports in 2005.
The program sponsors international promotional activities, such as “prospecting” missions in promising countries or regions and the Buyer Project and the Image Project, which bring importers and opinion-makers to Brazil to become acquainted with firms’ potentials
Brazil Footwear also promotes participation in international fairs, with promotional activities such as fashion shows and intensive publicity campaigns in the trade media.