A Free Trade Agreement has been signed between Japan and Mexico that will offer new export opportunities to local exporters and manufacturers. The agreement is the result of a commercial mission from Mexico who visited Japan in July with the aim of forging links and contacts with Japanese footwear importers.

The key organisations involved in the agreement are COFOCE (Guanajuato World Trade Commission), whose objective is to ‘Promote, coordinate and develop the growth of exports of companies based in Guanajuato’ and whose footwear sector is headed up by the Director Luis Ernesto Rojas; and CICEG (Guanajuato Chamber of the Footwear Industry) which groups together manufacturers capable of exporting. The cooperation between these two organisations in Guanajuato State will develop the strategy necessary to ensure successful present and future commercial missions.

In the first year, Mexico is authorised to export 300,000 pairs within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement, rising 20% year-on-year. Such a quantity, even though modest, will enjoy a zero tariff rating, which will provide the opportunity to export high-quality footwear without being subject to the usual 35% import duty. In this way, Mexico will enjoy a large competitive advantage over European shoe exports to Japan, for example.

The Mexican delegation to Japan was shown how to identify the potential demand in the most densely populated cities, consumer behavior, some tips on how to penetrate the Japanese market and how to launch marketing campaigns for Mexican products.

According to the senior adviser of direct investment in the Japan unit of Trade Promotion UK, Robin Sloan, Japanese consumers account for more than 50% of world sales of luxury brands, and one in six owns a Louis Vuitton product! As a result, there are many niche opportunities for manufacturers of high-quality shoes, leathergoods, fashion accessories, as well as leather jackets and garments.