Positive signals on the domestic and international fronts have been coming from the Brazilian shoe industry as it gears up for the Couromoda fair taking place in São Paulo on Jan. 13-15, which will also integrate a women's ready-to-wear section.

In the first 11 months of this year, Brazilian shoe exports totalled 104.2 million pairs, up by 3.8 percent year-on-year in volume, while in value they grew by 0.9 percent to $886.3 million. According to the national footwear industry association, Abicalçados, Brazilian exporters have been benefiting from the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, aside from a temporary truce that was announced a few days ago.

Brazil's shoe exports to the U.S., which is the country's main foreign market, rose by 26.5 percent in volume to 10.8 million pairs and grew by 28.2 percent in value to more than $180 million. However, exports to Argentina, Brazil's second-largest export market, fell by 18.3 percent in volume to 9.3 million pairs and by 27.0 percent in value to $98.3 million, due to the economic downturn affecting the country.

Meanwhile, the big news from a Scenario Analysis held in the city of Novo Hamburgo a few weeks ago is a projection that, by the end of this year, Brazil's annual footwear production will have grown by 3 percent.

The 3 percent increase in Brazil's footwear production should result in a total manufacturing run of 972 million pairs. Priscila Linck, market intelligence coordinator at Abicalçados, noted that this increase will not make up for the declines that have occurred since 2014. She ascribed the production increase to the recent increase in shoe exports. Brazil's domestic market, which absorbs an estimated 86 percent of the production, should grow by 0.8 percent.

The conference in Novo Hamburgo was promoted by Abicalçados and Assintecal (Brazilian Association of Leather, Footwear and Artifact Components Companies), and sponsored by Fenac. One of the main speakers was Marcos Lélis, an economist and consultant for the footwear sector.

Lélis noted that world trade has slowed because of the tariff war between the U.S. and China and will continue to slow next year. So far in 2019, he noted, U.S. imports from China have fallen by 12.6 percent and U.S. exports to China by 17.9 percent.

In Brazil, meanwhile, the GDP went up by 0.4 percent in the second quarter, but the country still lacks investment in infrastructure. Lélis argued that a planned social-security reform, which has yet to be enacted, would provide an insufficient boost and leave Brazil unattractive to investors. In this respect, he said, public-private partnerships are key.