16 August 2023
Chambers and associations representing the main producing countries in the region participated in the Latin American Footwear Forum, recently held in Colombia: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The referents of the sector debated the priority issues of the industrial agenda. Latin America, which is the second largest footwear-producing region outside of Asia, faces the challenge of unfair competition from cheap Asian imports. Report by CueroAmérica.
The XXV Latin American Footwear Forum was held in Cúcuta, Colombia, and common guidelines were discussed in relation to unfair competition from Asian footwear and sustainable production.
Haroldo Ferreira, executive president of Abicalçados, highlighted the importance of these meetings that allow for closer ties with the region’s industry and pointed out that “we have many common issues, such as unfair competition with Asian countries, the problem of digital platforms, the destructuring of retail trade and sustainability”.
In relation to footwear from Asia, the Brazilian representative highlighted that “although it is a common problem in Latin American countries that produce footwear, only Brazil, Argentina and Peru maintain anti-dumping defense mechanisms against footwear imported from China.”
Mexico is one of the countries that still does not have legislation that protects them from irregular imports. In relation to this, Mauricio Battaglia, president of the Chamber of Footwear Industries of the State of Guanajuato (CICEG), explained that “2021 was an irregular recovery and in 2022, despite the challenges, we had growth. Even so, we are still 17% below 2019 levels.” In 2010, our participation in the industry’s GDP was almost 0.7% and today it is just over 0.4%”. As Battaglia explained, “unfair competition, which puts Asian footwear on the market, below the manufacturing cost, has greatly harmed the sector.” “Today, more than 40% of what is consumed in Mexico is imported,” lamented the Mexican manager.
On behalf of Argentina, Horacio Moschetto, executive secretary of the Chamber of Footwear (CIC) stated that the forum “provides us with greater knowledge of the continent’s markets, helping to develop a common development strategy.” The Argentine representative stressed that in his country “we have had antidumping against China since 2010 and the local industry has official support for customs controls and the mitigation of tax evasion, we have been successful.”
With an estimated production of 130 million pairs (2022), a growth of 22% compared to 2021, Argentina has the third largest footwear industry in Latin America.
Colombia proposed, through one of its representatives William Parrado, executive vice president of the Colombian Association of Footwear, Leather and Manufactured Industries (ACICAM) “to promote local industries, reducing dependence on the Asian market.” Parrado advised “strengthening communication between our customs and adopting joint strategies to curb informality and unfair competition in our countries.”
Lastly, the coordinator of the Association of Footwear Chambers of Latin America (ACCAL) said in relation to irregular imports that “it is not only the local industry that is at risk when low-priced footwear enters, but the consumer himself, since they are products without quality and that do not respect the environment”.
The other subject that was very present in the Forum was that of sustainable and responsible production. Cristian Schlindwein, project director of Abicalçados, presented the Origem Sustentável (Sustainable Origin) Program, which certifies the implementation of ESG practices in the production chain. “We show the Brazilian leadership in sustainability not only in Latin America, but in the world. We have a sustainable industry, in the environmental, economic and social pillars, and all the conditions to be an international reference in the production of ecologically correct footwear and produced from processes that respect human rights. ESG practices, in addition to their environmental and social relevance, can bring competitiveness gains, especially against Asian footwear.
Regarding this topic, Moschetto from Argentina stated that “there is a desire to increase the application of these issues not only in the footwear industry, but in all the others. Particularly for the footwear industry, we are working with businessmen and national authorities” although he acknowledged that “we are still at the beginning of the process”.
For his part, Parrado from Colombia stated that “we learned a lot with the presentation of the Origem Sustentável (Sustainable Origin). Today, sustainability is a requirement not only of the Government, but also of private investors”.