The Vietnamese footwear industry is trying to scramble back from its 13 percent drop in exports to $4.1 billion last year, and is asking its government for help. The industry wants Vietnam to help establish production centers for materials and accessories, especially for tanning, so it can create higher added value. Lefaso, the Vietnamese Leather and Footwear Association, would like to see more emphasis on training footwear designers and establishing international trademarks.

For 2010, Lefaso forecasts shoe exports of $4.5 billion to $5.0 billion. Half of that would go to the European Union, despite 10 percent anti-dumping duties. Another 30 percent of the total is destined for the U.S., and the last 20 percent for Mexico, Canada and Russia. There about 50 footwear producers making exports in Vietnam, employing a total of 10,000 people.

In the southern province of Dong Nai, however, several industries, including footwear, are facing a shortage of workers. Despite a high unemployment rate, people aren't taking the jobs because the salaries are too low. The Labor Department said that the factories are employing young migrant workers, but this costs the government $222,000 per year for their electricity and water.