The volume of shoes exported from Brazil fell by 25.0 percent to 82.1 million pairs in the first nine months of 2011. They had already recorded a decline in June. After an upward spurt during the month of July, they continued to drop in August and September. Brazilian manufacturers are blaming mainly the continued high value of the Brazilian real. In terms of dollars, their exports dropped by 14 percent to $975.7 million during the period.

The U.S. remained the biggest foreign destination for Brazilian footwear, but deliveries to that country were off by 67 percent to 25.3 million pairs. Exports to the three other major target countries went down, too: They fell by 22 percent in Argentina, by 56 percent in the U.K. and by 34 percent in Italy. Exports to France, the fifth-largest market for Brazilian shoes, rose instead by 27 percent.

Exports declined also in terms of value to all the four major markets except for Argentina, were they were up by 13 percent in dollars to $139.2 million. Brazil exported 10.1 million pairs to that country in the first nine months of 2011, but Brazilian manufacturers are complaining that an additional 3.3 million pairs shipped to the country between February and October were not given import licenses by the Argentine government.

Some have been sitting for more than 200 days, in spite of regulations by the World Trade Organization that limit the maximum waiting period to 60 days, and this could compromise the Christmas selling season for some Brazilian brands, such as West Coast and Calçados Bibi.

Meanwhile, footwear imports into Brazil have been rising. They grew by 17 percent overall to 26.8 million pairs in the first nine months of this year, with a 44 percent increase in value to $334.4 million. While imports from China grew by 8 percent in volume and by 28 percent in value, imports from Vietnam and Indonesia increased at higher rates, reinforcing their presence on the Brazilian market.

In terms of volume, imports from Vietnam were up by 47 percent to 8.2 million, while imports from Indonesia jumped by 65 percent to 4.5 million pairs, but imports from China remained higher at 8.7 million pairs. In terms of dollars, imports from Vietnam rose by 45 percent to $142.7 million and imports from Indonesia went up by 70 percent to $77.4 million, leaving China in third place with declared imports of $56.6 million.

According to Abicalçados, Brazil's shoe production declined by 11.4 percent in the first eight months of 2011, but employment in the industry remained more or less steady, rising by 0.3 percent. Retail sales of shoes in the country increased by 5.9 percent in volume and by 14.0 in U.S. dollars, explaining the higher import flow.