According to Abicalçados, the Brazilian Shoe Manufacturers Association, a total of 31.84 million pairs worth US$226.72 million were shipped abroad in the corresponding period the prior year. The decline in the first quarter of 2017 has been attributed to the devaluation of the dollar; prices of the Brazilian products in the international markets having increased 16% in the period. “Our footwear, given the undervaluation of the North American dollar, became more expensive since our costs are in Brazilian reais, which is currently stronger”, explains Heitor Klein, Executive President, Abicalçados. “When the exchange rates are favourable it compensates the high costs of producing in Brazil, otherwise we become less competitive and the situation complicates”, he added.

The U.S. represented the biggest buyer in the first three months of the year; 3.16 million pairs were shipped generating US$ 48 million in revenue, down -16% in volume and -3% in value compared with the first quarter of 2017. Argentina ranked second, importing 2 million pairs for US$35.65 million (+50% in volume and +104.5% in value), followed by France with 1.8 million pairs worth US$15.3 million (-55% in volume and -13.3% in value).

On the other hand, footwear imports became cheaper and are steadily increasing, after having fallen over 30% in 2016. Between January and March 2017, Brazil imported a total of 8 million pairs for US$100 million; still lower in volume (-3.3%) and value (-0.9%) than imports in the corresponding period of 2016. Top three importing countries were Vietnam, Indonesia and China.