For the first time, an interactive video conference was held in Washington D.C. on May 27 to connect Vietnamese footwear manufacturers and U.S. distributors and retailers.The initiative comes as the Asian’s footwear industry is suffering severely from the drop in demand stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conference entitled “Promoting Vietnam - US Trade in Footwear Post COVID-19” was co-hosted by the country’s Vietnam trade promotion agency Vietrade, the Vietnam Trade Office in the US in partnership with Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the Vietnam leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso), and USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME).

The conference was followed by B2B online trading conferences held on May 29-30, which enabled 16 Vietnamese firms to present their products to their American counterparts, according to Viet Nam News.

Vietnam exported $18.3 billion of footwear in 2019, up by 12.8 percent year on year. The U.S. was its main export market, with exports rising by 14.2 percent to $6.65. In the first quarter of 2020, footwear exports to the U.S. were up by 10 percent to $1.56 billion. But, Lefaso warned that footwear orders for deliveries in April and May had dropped by 70 percent, and about 800,000 jobs were temporarily lost because of the crisis. Around 90 percent of the footwear and clothing that is made in the country is intended for export.

Since the beginning of 2019, Vietnam has benefited, among other things, from the enforcement of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which opened new potential markets such as Mexico, Canada, Chile, and Peru. In February, Lefaso was predicting that footwear and leather exports could rise by 11 percent in 2020 to $24 billion.

Separately, Top Repute, the organizer of the Vietnam International Shoes & Leather Exhibition has cancelled the event scheduled for July 15-17. The trade show is now due July 14-16, 2021, at the Saigon Convention and Exhibition Centre (SECC), in Ho Chi Minh City.