According to the Vietnam Industry and Trade Information Centre (VITIC), the country will reach its goal of $12 billion in leather-product exports in 2014.

Under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the VITIC quoted the vice-chairman of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso), Diep Thanh Kiet, as saying that in the first nine months of 2014, Vietnam collected around $7.4 billion from shipping footwear abroad, up nearly 24% year-on-year and $1.9 billion from exporting handbags, up 37% year-on-year.

According to Kiet, Vietnam is now among the ten largest exporters of leather products worldwide, thanks to the country’s competitiveness in prices compared to other countries in the region and worldwide.

But the Vietnamese leather sector still faces many challenges, including a low localisation rate and the median position of domestic companies. According to a report by Lefaso, the localisation rate of the sector remains at 40% to 45%, mainly on shoe soles and sutures, while the country imports leather, equipment and machinery.

Kiet also commented that domestic companies held a modest position in the sector, while foreign invested companies accounted for 77% of Vietnam’s export revenue.

The association recommended: stimulating domestic companies to be more active to diversify material supplies; carry out research on consumer tastes to identify trends and increase added value for exported products; invest in technology for high-quality products; and build their own brands.