China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has put out figures for the leather industry in the first 10 months 2010, reporting that sales of leather and leathergoods rose in value by 28.6 percent compared with the same time period in 2009. Leather was up by 19.9 percent to 598,806 square meters; leather footwear grew by 23.3 percent to 3.5 billion pairs; leather apparel rose by 13.6 percent to 53,672 million units; and hide production was up by 43.5 percent to 24,325 million. The figures were announced at the International Leather Forum in São Paulo, where Gustavo Quijano, the executive director of Cotance, noted that China's market share for hide imports worldwide had jumped to 22.7 percent in 2008, up from 14 percent in 2002.

Regionally, shoe exports from Guangdong rose by 24.4 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, slower than the average growth in that province. Exports to the EU and the U.S., which made up 59.5 percent of Guangdong's total, fell by 1.2 percent in the January-October period.

The China Leather Industry Association attributed the drop to rising costs of labor and production, the appreciation of the yuan, increasing anti-dumping duties for exports to various countries, and more competitive rivals in other countries. Liu Huilong, executive vice president of Guangdong Footwear Association, pointed out that rural areas represent a huge market for a potential Guangdong expansion.

The CLIA has also reported that the city of Quanzhou exported footwea r worth more than $2.9 billion last year, accounting for half of the total exports from Fujian province and 10 percent of Chinese footwear exports. The average unit price was 21.3 percent higher than in 2009.

In Wenzhou province, the footwear industry creates $10.7 billion of annual output value and accounts for one-third of local GDP, CLIA said. However, a lot of producers there are relocating or shutting down entirely because of increased costs of production and land, according to a report from the Wenzhou government. It also said that the investment in the region's footwear sector dropped by 45.8 percent in the first nine months of in 2009. The industry used to be 6,000 shoemakers strong; that figure has dropped to 2,000. Many have moved some of their production out of the country, including Belle and Aokang, saying it is a trend in the country's industrial development.