In the first half of 2021, Brazilian footwear exports rose by 17.7 percent in value to $389 million and by 32.3 percent in volume to 57 million pairs compared with the previous year when trade was depressed by the Covid-19 outbreak, according to data released by the local footwear association Abicalçados.

Compared with the first half of 2019, exports were down by 19 percent in value and by 0.3 percent in volume. Abicalçados explained that exports fell more in value than in volume due to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Brazilian real, which prompted local manufacturers to cut prices in dollars to be more competitive on international markets.

In the sole month of June, Brazil exported 7.8 million pairs of shoes, up by 116 percent year-on-year, generating $65.5 million in revenues, up by 84 percent. Compared with June 2019, export volumes were up by 19.7 percent, but revenues decreased by 2.6 percent.

Abicalçados’ executive president, Haroldo Ferreira, pointed out that despite a recovery in shipments, exports at the end of the year will probably still be below pre-pandemic levels. Abicalçados expects export volumes to increase by 13 percent in 2021. 

In the first half, the U.S. was Brazil’s main foreign buyer, with 6.4 million pairs shipped, up by 44.4 percent year-over-year, generating $88 million in revenues, up by 30.8 percent.

Argentina was the second largest export market for Brazilian footwear manufacturers, with 5.0 million pairs exported, up by 59.3 percent, and $48 million in revenues, up by 48.4 percent. France ranked third, importing 3.4 million pairs in the semester, up by 13.7 percent, for a total of $28 million, up 11.7 percent.

In the first half, Brazilian footwear imports totaled 12 million pairs, for an expense of $159.7 million, resulting in a decrease of 4.6 percent in volume and an increase of 1 percent in value compared with the previous year. In June alone, imports rose by 23.2 percent to 1.3 million pairs and by 19.7 percent in value to $26.7 million.

In the six-month period, imports from Vietnam fell by 16.4 percent to 4.4 million pairs and dropped by 1.5 percent in value to $89 million. Imports from Indonesia totaled 1.5 million pairs and $27.2 million, resulting in decreases of 8.6 percent in volume and 0.1 percent in value. Meanwhile, imports from China rose by 5.2 percent to 5 million pairs and advanced by 5.5 percent in value to $18.6 million.

Imports of footwear parts – uppers, insoles, soles, heels, etc. – during the semester totaled $12.5 million, up by 18 percent year-over-year. The main sourcing countries for Brazil were Paraguay, Vietnam and China.

Abicalçados added that in a digital meeting held on June 22 with the Brazilian trade promotion agency Apex-Brasil and more than 30 footwear companies, the parties chose the U.S., Colombia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K., France and South Korea as the key “target markets” for 2022 and 2023.

It is the first time that South Korea is selected as a priority market for the footwear industry, which will lead to a study of the market before the promotion campaign starts. For the first time, the promotion program selected two secondary markets for Brazilian exporters, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The export promotion program developed by Abicalçados and Apex-Brasil is known as Brazilian Footwear. It was first signed in 2000 and has been renewed every two years.

Mariele Lais Christ, the Apex-Brasil manager in charge of Brazilian Footwear, noted that Brazilian companies starting to expand abroad tend to focus on less challenging markets, such as Latin America, which have cultural similarities with Brazil. ”More mature companies, conversely, seek more challenging countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea,” she added.

Photo: © Rafaela Biazi on Unsplash