Portugal’s shoe exports are at the best level they have been for nearly 20 years, with around 90 percent of Portuguese production going into export markets. Exports increased by 9.2 percent in 2007 compared with the previous year to reach 70 million pairs. In terms of value, the growth was 5.2 percent, taking total shoe exports up to a level of €1.2 billion.

Over 50 million pairs of the exported shoes, representing 71 percent of the total, were made of leather. While leather shoes rose by just 2.6 percent, waterproof and plastic shoes grew by more than 20 percent. However, the value of leather shoe exports, €1.08 billion, accounted for more than 90 percent of total export value.

France confirmed its position as the No. 1 export market for Portuguese footwear. Some 19 million pairs of Portuguese shoes went to the French market last year, registering growth of 20.3 percent. Surprisingly, Spain came second in terms of growth. Footwear exports to Spain started in the 1990s and reached 11 million pairs last year, representing an increase of 23.3 percent from 2006. However, exports to Germany and the UK were down by 0.4 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.

While Europe remains the key continent for Portuguese shoe manufacturers, Portuguese footwear is now being exported to all continents, according to the Portuguese Association of Footwear, Components, Leathergoods and Similar Manufacturers (APICCAPS). It is now sold in 118 different countries.