We saw in an earlier post – Mexico’s shoe (footwear) manufacturing industry: regional clustering – that Mexico’s shoe manufacturing is concentrated in three major areas: León (Guanajuato), Guadalajara (Jalisco) and in/around Mexico City.
Shoes are also an important international trade item. Latin America’s largest international footwear trade show is SAPICA (Salón de la Piel y el Calzado), which is held in León twice a year. Each time, it attracts 12,000 buyers from the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Central and South America.
- Export volume: 15 million pairs/yr
- Value of exports: $250 million (dollars). Exports have risen steadily since 2006, despite the global economic difficulties.
- Export destinations, by volume: USA 82%, Brazil 5%, Guatemala 2%, Japan 2% and Canada 2%.
- Export destinations, by value: USA 84%, Japan 4%, Canada 2%, France 1% and Brazil 1%.
- Import volume: 45 million pairs/yr
- Value of imports: $450 million; this figure is rising at 15-20%/yr
- Sources of imports, by volume: Vietnam 39%, Indonesia 21%, China 11%, Brazil 7%, Malaysia 5% and Thailand 5%.
- Sources of imports, by value: Vietnam 43%, Indonesia 16%, China 14%, Italy 7% and Spain 6%.
Q. What can you deduce about Mexico’s international shoe imports and exports by comparing the percentages for trade by volume and trade by value? (eg. which countries supply more expensive shoes?)
The threat from China
At first sight, these figures do not suggest that Mexican manufacturers have much to worry about from Chinese shoe manufacturers. However, it is believed that many of the shoes entering Mexico from Vietnam and Indonesia actually originate in China. In addition, some Chinese shoes are thought to be repackaged in the USA for eventual export to Mexico.
Shoe manufacturers’ representatives in Mexico opposed China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) since they feared it would unleash a flood of cheap Chinese imports into the country. In an effort to help protect national manufacturers, the Mexican government has, for most of the past 20 years, levied a compensatory 35% tariff on shoes originating in China.
Challenges faced by Mexico’s shoe industry
- Mexico’s shoe industry faces periodic shortages of some raw materials. In addition, the sector’s supply chains and delivery systems need strengthening.
- The improvement of product quality may require further investment in technology and research.
- As tariff barriers are lifted, Mexico’s shoe manufacturers will face greatly increased competition from overseas.
Source of statistics: CICEG (Guanajuato Shoe Manufacturers Association) Situación de la industria del calzado en México.
- León hosts Latin America’s largest trade fair for footwear (2014)
- Mexico’s footwear industry: intra-urban clustering for shoe retailing (2011)
- Mexico’s shoe (footwear) manufacturing industry: regional clustering (2011)
Mexico’s economic geography is analyzed in chapters 14–20 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy of this invaluable reference guide today!