4,000 Foreigners from 65 Countries Come to Brazil’s Leather Fair

Brazilian shoe producers exported higher added value products last year. The average price of Brazilian shoes shipped abroad rose from US$ 9.98, between January and November 2005, to US$ 10.32 during the same months in 2006.

Shoe factories' efforts at selling higher quality produce were praised by the Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, at the opening of Couromoda, a trade show for the sector that began yesterday, January 15, at Parque Anhembi, in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo.

"The shoe sector achieved amazing improvements in quality, design and (brand) positioning over the last four years," Furlan said.

Entering more demanding, sophisticated niches was the solution found by shoe producers in order to overcome the problems created by the Brazilian exchange rate, which is unfavorable to exports.

According to the executive director at the Brazilian Association of Shoe Manufacturers (Abicalçados), Heitor Klein, the increase in average shoe price was partly due to readjustment to the exchange rate, and partly due to the higher quality of exported products.

"In order to keep growing, many Brazilian companies have decided to add value to exported products, to approach sales in a more direct manner, and to export using their own brands," said the executive director.

Improved design and higher quality raw materials are features of these shoes, which are currently exported in larger quantities.

Klein says, for instance, that markets more receptive to higher quality shoes, such as Europe and the Middle East, performed better in 2006 than markets for traditional shoes, such as the United States.

With the appreciation of the real (the Brazilian currency), manufacturers had to withdraw from markets in which low cost is the decisive factor. This change may be shown in the fact that revenues from shoes exports decreased 1% between January and November last year compared with the same period in the previous year, whereas the foreign sales volume decreased 4%.

Brazil exported 164.9 million pairs of shoes during the first eleven months in 2006, generating US$ 1.7 billion in revenues. The president of Couromoda, Francisco Santos, said that Brazil should continue to increase its exports of shoes with higher added value.

"The sector is moving forward, taking up room in markets worldwide, instead of just waiting on government measures," Furlan complimented.

The governor of the State of São Paulo, José Serra, who was also present at the opening of the trade show, claimed that the shoes sector was one of the first in which Brazil established itself abroad as a supplier of quality products.

"Last year, shoe exports returned to the level they were at in 2002 and 2003, which were very good years, thanks to the sector's creativity and its combative spirit," Serra stated.

To the president of Abicalçados, Elcio Jacometti, the performance of the sector is also the result of promotion work. Last year, Brazilian shoe companies participated in 22 international trade shows.

The shoe chain, which includes from raw material production to the sector's stores, generates 42 billion reais (US$ 19.6 billion) per year. Couromoda accounts for 25% of shoe sales in Brazil. In the trade show, the shoe and accessory industries showcase their autumn-winter collections.

This year, the trade show should be attended by 60,000 visitors, among them 4,000 foreigners from 65 different countries. Overall, 1,200 exhibitors will be showcasing 3,000 different brands at Couromoda. Twenty Brazilian states are represented in the trade show.

Yeda Crusius, governor of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, which answers to 70% of national shoe production, attended the opening of the trade show.

The mayor of the city of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, and the president of the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex), Juan Quirós, among other local and national authorities, also were at the opening.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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