BRASÍLIA: Although overall export revenues for Brazilian shoes fell 10 percent last year, to $960.4 million, sales during the last month of December ended on a high and rocketed 60 percent from November, to $119.57 million, raising the sector’s expectations for this year, according to Heitor Klein, the chief executive of Abicalçados, the Brazilian Association of Footwear Manufacturers.
The weak Brazilian currency, the real, could help Brazilian shoe exports reach the $2 billion figure recorded before the 2008 international financial crisis, Klein said.
“Towards the end of the year we really started to see the results of contracts signed three to four months earlier, when the Real started to depreciate rapidly, and we are sure that trend will continue throughout 2016,” said Klein.
The value of the real has fallen from 2.2 reais per U.S. dollar in April 2014 to 3.1 reais in April 2015 and now sits at 4 reais to $1. Brazilian shoe shippers export to 150 countries around the world and this number could grow with the cheaper real, Abicalçados said.
During 2015, the principal destination for Brazilian shoe exports was the U.S., which imported 11.76 million pairs of shoes, at a total value of $191.87 million, which was 0.9 percent lower than the previous year.
“Although the overall figure for last year was down, we saw that during the last few months of the year United States’ imports of our shoes saw a significant increase of over 30 percent in relation to the results of 2014,” said Klein. “This trend is explained by both the weakening real and also the significant recovery and strength of the North American market and economy.”
The second most popular destination for Brazilian footwear was Argentina, where Brazilian shoe imports fell 17.4 percent to 8 million pairs at a total value of $67.48 million because of economic difficulties in that country.
“Argentina is experiencing a severe economic crisis, and this has been exacerbated by the heavy, protectionist maneuvers of Cristina Kirchner’s government,” Klein said.
There is a feeling now that Argentina will open its doors to far more trade with Brazil, including the footwear sector, because of the new government of Mauricio Macri, who ended 12 years of rule by the Kirchner family.
France, the third-largest importer of Brazilian shoes, imported 21.6 percent less shoes than last year, buying 8.46 million pairs valued at $55 million. Brazilian shoes are exported abroad mostly via ship, but also by road and air.
The main shoe export ports are Santos and Recife, followed by Itajai and Rio Grande in the south of Brazil. Shippers exported some 32.7 million pairs of shoes through Santos, or about 8,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, and around 18.8 million pairs through the port of Recife, according to Abicalçados.
When it comes to air, the main gateways are the two airports of Guarulhos, to the west of Sao Paulo, and the freight focused airport of Viracopos, near Campinas. Together they handled 4.6 million pairs of exported Brazilian shoes, mostly for the more costly end of the market.
Nearly all Brazilian footwear exports transported by road move via the Three Frontiers region, where the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet near Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Cidade del Este, Paragauy. Some 13 million pairs crossed the border there to to the rest of Paraguay and onward to Chile and Bolivia over the High Andes.